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What in the World?

Russia clearly eyeing key Ukraine port of Odessa–and beyond

Mar 07, 2022

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Look beyond the shelling in Ukraine to the broader strategic and economic perspective. It seems it’s not a matter of if but when Russians push through to the primary commercial port of Odessa, a geographic gateway. 

Odessa is the commercial capital. It’s the most economically vibrant city in Ukraine. It sits near the mouth of the Dneistr River, which is kind of the Ukrainian equivalent of the Mississippi. And as such, it is Ukraine’s single largest wheat loading facility. In fact, it’s arguably the largest one by volume in the world. Pretty much all of the agricultural exports that come out of Ukraine, go through Odessa. 

So if it is subjected to the same level of destruction that the Russians are visiting on every other Russian population center that they visit, that is the end of Ukraine’s participation in large scale agriculture, period. The Ukrainians are not gonna be able to plant this year because the Russians are systematically destroying every town they come across. It’ll just be impossible for the farmers to do what they need to do. 

Now that’s important enough as it is from an economic point of view and for what it means for global food supplies, but it’s actually part of the Russian strategic goal here. Not necessarily to move, remove Ukraine from the equation in agricultural markets, but instead to push further to the west. You see the Russians aren’t doing this ’cause Putin is power-mad. They’re doing this because they’re trying to secure the gateway geographies that give access to the Russian portions of the European plane. 

There are nine of them, but two of them are adjacent to Ukraine. The one in question, when it comes to Odessa, is further to the west and southwest. It’s called the Bessarabian Gap. And it is the direction that the Turks have used to invade Russia on multiple occasions through the two countries’ histories.

So when the war comes to Odessa, I expect that Russian troops that are stationed in Moldova, in a separatist enclave called Transdniestria, are going to join in that assault. And then you will have Russian troops going all the way from the Russian western frontier through Ukraine into Moldova proper. And I do not expect them to stop. 

Hello, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado.  I wanted to give you an idea of what is coming up in the Russia-Ukraine war for the next couple of weeks. 

There’s obviously a lot of shelling going on around Khrakiv and Kyiv, and I don’t mean to take away from the importance of those two fronts. From a strategic and a political point of view, they are clearly what’s going on, but there is a broader strategic picture as well as an economic picture that a lot of folks are missing, and that is all down in the south. 

So for the last eight days of the war, the Russians have been trying to link up their forces in Crimea with their forces that were in the southeast in those separatist regions around Luhansk and Donetsk. Those forces have met in a pincer movement at the city of Mariupol, which has now been subjected to a week straight of heavy shelling.

The Russians did a false flag op, I’m sorry, not a false flagger operation. The Russians did a fake peace agreement that would’ve allowed several tens of thousands of people from Mariupol to evacuate, civilians. And as soon as they concentrated, the Russians restarted the shelling, trying to kill as many people as possible, which I think tells you everything you need to know about the seriousness of peace talks as far as the Russians are concerned. 

Now why this matters is if Mariupol falls then there will be nothing to stop the Russians from sending the regular forces in Russia proper through those secessionist regions by Mariupol into Crimea and then further west. 

Now the forces in Crimea have already captured the town of Kherson. Although direct control seems a little muddled right now.

And they are pushing further to the northwest to city of Mykolaiv, and if they capture Mykolaiv there will be nothing standing between them and what is going on in Odessa. 

Odessa is the commercial capital. It’s the most economically vibrant city in Ukraine. It sits near the mouth of the Dneistr River, which is kind of the Ukrainian equivalent of the Mississippi. And as such, it is Ukraine’s single largest wheat loading facility. In fact, it’s arguably the largest one by volume in the world. Pretty much all of the agricultural exports that come out of, excuse me, that come out of Ukraine, go through Odessa. 

So if it is subjected to the same level of destruction that the Russians are visiting on, on every other Russian population center that they visit, that is the end of Ukraine’s participation in large scale agriculture, period. The Ukrainians are not gonna be able to plant this year because the Russians are systematically destroying every town they come across. It’ll just be impossible for the farmers to do what they need to do. 

Now that’s important enough as it is from an economic point of view and for what it means for global food supplies, but it’s actually part of the Russian strategic goal here. Not necessarily to move, remove Ukraine from the equation in agricultural markets, but instead to push further to the west, you see the Russians aren’t doing this cuz Putin is powermad, they’re doing this because they’re trying to secure the gateway geographies that give access to the Russian portions of the European plane. 

There are nine of them, but two of them are adjacent to Ukraine. The one in question, when it comes to Odessa, is further to the west and southwest. It’s called the Bessarabian Gap. And it is the direction that the Turks have used to invade Russia on multiple occasions through the two countries’ histories.

So when the war comes to Odessa, I expect that Russian troops that are stationed in Moldova, in a separatist enclave called Transdniestria, are going to join in that assault. And then you will have Russian troops going all the way from the Russian western frontier through Ukraine into Moldova proper. And I do not expect them to stop. 

As soon as they figure out that their supply lines are as secure as they can be, I expect the Russians to cross the river into Moldova proper, and then keep pushing until they’ve taken the entire country. Moldova controls about half of the Bessarabian Gap, but in order to get it all, the Russians can’t stop there. They need to continue into NATO member Romania and push south until they reach the access between the two Romanian cities of – I’m gonna try to not for these pronunciations – Focsani and Braila, 

Once they have those they’ll have fully plugged the Bessarabian Gap, but that does mean coming into conflict with NATO down the line.

So, Moldova will fall very easily. This is a country of less than 3 million people. Their primary exports are a few agricultural outputs, and, and some wine. They don’t have the political much less military wherewithal to resist a Russian assault. I would expect all of Moldova to fall within a week or two. Ukraine, or when you get into Romania of course, though, that gets a little bit more dicey. 

So a couple things to look for. First of all, uh, while Kherson has fallen and while Mykolaiv is in danger and is under assault, there’s only one bridge across the river that goes through Mykolaiv. So if that bridge is destroyed, the Russians are gonna have to go a couple hundred miles north and loop back around. That would cost them a lot of time that I don’t think they think they have. 

Second. Once they link up with their forces in Transdniestria, there are only a couple of bridges that cross Dneistr River going into Moldova proper. So the same logic holds. So those are kind of the flash points that you should look, be looking at, because if anyone wants to really kick the Russians in the teeth and slow down these assaults, those two bridges or those bridges need to fall. 

So we’re not to the point yet where the Ukrainians are sabotaging their own infrastructure in order to deter the Russians. But I can’t imagine that that is far off. 

Okay. That’s everything from me until next time, take care.

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