Possession of Odessa, however, would provide Russia with effective control over Ukraine’s maritime trade – given that the port handles 70% of the country’s shipping and few viable alternative ports exist – and thus give it a long-term veto over Ukraine’s foreign policy. The area, with its large Russian population, may be viewed by the Russians – correctly or otherwise – as likely to be quiescent in the face of such a change.
Holding Kyiv the capital would be symbolic but it would be very costly to maintain.
Odessa seems to be the key military objective for Putin.
SOURCES – Royal United Services Institute
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
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