Ukraine, the siege of the “planet” Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov: trapped between the Crimea and Donbass

Of Andrea Nicastro

In the east, the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk recognized by Putin on live TV. To the west, Crimea. To the south, Rostov, a Russian province. On the Sea of ​​Azov the specter of the Moscow navy. Thus Mariupol is surrounded

MARIUPOL (Ukraine) – A Soviet spaceship lands on a planet so polluted that it needs the gas masks of a greedy industrialist to survive. Astronauts know how to clean up air and water, but the cruel monopolist so as not to lose his earnings invents fake news which unleash a popular revolt against the Soviets. It was 1981, director Richard Viktorov signed this film: For Aspera ad Astra. Then it was science fiction, today the Russians regard him in a political fiction because he seems to have anticipated what is happening between them and the Ukrainian brothers: manipulated by the Orange Revolution and, as the Kremlin leader said in his monologue on unified networks yesterday, “reduced to the rank of colony “of the West,” with a puppet government “.

As a scenography, the fellow director chose Zhdanov, the Ukrainian city on the Sea of ​​Azov, which today is called Mariupol, but continues to resemble a dying planet. Mountains of coal dust, smokestacks that spew smoke, armies of small roads that scrape the asphalt to remove the bituminous film that sticks to the first rain. The metaphor against capitalism is outdated, the USSR no longer exists, Ukraine is independent, but, according to Russian television, the men of Moscow are still trying to save the city. This time, not from pollution but from the clutches of the West.

Mariupol is geographically trapped. To the east, 100 kilometers, the pro-Russian militiamen are aiming at it, mobilizing the 2/300 thousand males aged 18 to 55 from the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk recognized by Putin on live TV. West, 300 kilometers, in Crimea, the armored divisions and the Moscow marines are ready. To the south, 70 kilometers, there is Rostov, a Russian province, and even closer, on the Azov Sea, Russian cruisers with their heavy guns can appear at any moment. Mariupol is in a small way what Ukraine has become a month ago: a country besieged on three sides by former Russian brothers.

Professor Maxim Bulyk, dean of the faculty of international relations at the city’s State University, does not hide for fans. On the lapel of his jacket he has a pin with the symbol of the Atlantic Alliance. Many think that the national siege could end by giving Putin precisely the Mariupol corridor to link together the “conquests” of 2014: the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk with the Crimean peninsula. The professor, however, does not agree: «Mariupol will not act as a sacrificial lamb. Not only because today we know how to defend ourselves better, we have more weapons and are more determined to break away from Moscow. Especially since Mariupol would not be a sufficient victory. Putin wants Ukraine and he wants it all. The goal is regime change with a government in Kiev under the wing of the Kremlin, a vassal like Belarus ».

«Putin is obsessed with Ukraine for at least three reasons. One geopolitical one, one of internal politics and one psychological that you Westerners will never be able to understand ». Geopolitically Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet-Tsarist empire. That dissolution is for him, who grew up with the KGB, the “greatest tragedy of the twentieth century”. “Bringing Ukraine back to obedienceit means removing illusions from all ex-Soviets who could hope for real independence ».

From an internal point of view, allowing Ukraine to get closer to Europe means that even a Slavic country, even a country of the great plain, is not condemned to autocracy. “So what would Putin say to his citizens? THE Ukrainian brothers are democrats, but you are not mature enough? The twenty years of vertical power, the persecution of the opposition, the coincidence between economics and politics, all Putinism would lose its meaning ». Psychologically, then – Bulyk insists – Putin cannot see his reign go down without imperial reconstruction. He would be destroyed ».

In the 21st century, countries are no longer conquered with bayonets, they are convinced, at least they are bought. “So you think in the West. Putin no. For him, only the display of strength is valid, people will lower their heads accordingly. ” So is an attack inevitable? The professor hesitates. «50 and 50. But only because the Russians don’t want to die for Ukraine. If the mercenaries were enough for Putin, he would have no hesitation ». Mariupol was Cossack, Greek, a little bit Italian, Soviet and today she is Ukrainian still speaking Russian. Stuck in a vise with three jaws, she feels the final battle approaching. In the film set in its mineral dumps, the Soviet astronauts won with telekinesis, the power of thought. Putin also tried yesterday on TV to persuade Ukraine to surrender. In 1981 the planet was saved, today that polluted set is not at all sure.

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