Sevastopol constantly feeds thoughts of war and its agonieswrites Andrew Higgins in a New York Times story on the historical aspects of the Crimean peninsula, an article echoed by Michel Guerrin in Le Monde.
With nearly every other main street named after a Russian military hero or a gruesome battle, its lovely seafront promenade dominated by a “monument to sunken ships” and its central square named after the imperial admiral who commanded Russian forces against French, British and Turkish troops in the 19th century, Sevastopol constantly feeds thoughts of war and its agonies.
Bombarded with reminders of the Crimean War, which involved a near yearlong siege of the city in 1854-55, and World War II, when the city doggedly resisted Nazi forces until finally falling in July 1942, Sevastopol has never stopped thinking about wartime losses — and has never been able to cope with the amputation carried out in 1954 by the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev.
… When Ukraine became a separate independent nation near the end of 1991, however, Sevastopol — the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the 18th century — began howling, culminating in the Crimean Parliament’s decision on Thursday to hold a referendum on March 16 on whether to break away from Ukraine and formally become part of Russia again. Jubilant residents gathered in Sevastopol.… “Every stone and every tree in Sevastopol is drenched in blood, with the bravery and courage of Russian soldiers,” said [Irina Neverova, a guide at Sevastopol’s Crimean War museum]. “This is obviously Russia, not Ukraine,” Ms. Neverova said later in an interview.