With mined beaches, extended curfew, Ukraine’s main tourist hub is ready to fight

ODESA – Anti-tank hedgehogs, military patrols and an extended curfew aren’t what one expects to see in Ukraine’s main sea resort.

In May, Odesa, a Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea, usually rolls into the tourist season, which generates a substantial part of the city’s earnings.

Now the beaches are mined, tourism is dead and the city of 1 million people is gearing up for war.

“We’re ready,” Mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov told the Kyiv Independent.

Two months into Russia’s war against Ukraine, the attacks on the city intensified. In the past few weeks, Odesa has been attacked with missiles and artillery, which killed at least nine residents, including children.

Russia has long desired to seize the Russian-speaking city as part of its ongoing land grab. One of Ukraine’s largest cities, Odesa was founded during Russia’s southern imperial expansion in the late 18th century, soon becoming the empire’s largest Black Sea port.

Its lengthy historic ties with Russian imperialism caused many in Ukraine to question the city’s allegiance.

However, as Russian ships began bombing the city, Odesa didn’t lay down its arms.

Until recently, Odesa had been relatively safe, with Russia’s war barely reaching the city.

Heavy fighting raged 160 kilometers to the east, midway between the Ukraine-controlled city of Mykolaiv and the Russian-occupied Kherson, both capitals of their eponymous regions.

Everything changed on April 23, when Russian missiles struck a cemetery and a residential house in the city, killing eight people and injuring 18.

“I heard an explosion and went to the window to look. I saw smoke,” Lyudmila Verbetskaya, a resident of the high-rise building hit by the Russian missile, told the Kyiv Independent.

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