The city is also the administrative center of the Odessa Raion and Odessa Oblast , as well a multiethnic cultural center. Before the Tsarist establishment of Odessa, an ancient Greek settlement existed at its location. In , the city of Odessa was founded by a decree of the Russian empress Catherine the Great. From to , Odessa was a free port —a porto-Franco. During the Soviet period, it was the most important port of trade in the Soviet Union and a Soviet naval base. On 1 January , the Quarantine Pier at Odessa Commercial Sea Port was declared a free port and free economic zone for a period of 25 years.
Where Is Ukraine’s Next Crimea?
Ukraine Travel Advisory
The cultural and political differences besetting Ukraine are the product of very different patterns of regional settlement. Among these, the settlement of eastern and southern Ukraine stands out, for in these traditionally Russophone regions, political conflict has arisen whenever the legitimacy of Russian culture in Ukraine has been challenged. It is in this region shown in Figure 1 in yellow that the political life of the Ukrainian people begins, as the settlers known to history as Cossacks sought to preserve their independence, while defending their traditional Orthodox Christian faith. One of the earliest distinctions that arose among them is the geographic distinction between those who settled west of the Dnieper River, known as the Right Bank as the river flows, and those who settled east of the river, known as the Left Bank.
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Last month, residents of Crimea voted overwhelmingly for the autonomous province to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Electoral, polling, geographic and demographic data suggest that residents of two other Ukraine regions would be even more amenable than Crimeans were to exiting Ukraine. The southeastern provinces, or oblasts, of Donetsk and Luhansk are more aligned with Russia than Crimea in almost every measurable way. Their residents had a stronger desire to see Ukraine merge with Russia than Crimeans did, according to polls taken before Crimeans voted last month to join Russia.
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