It is one of the most tormented seas in the world. Under communism, it was a mar sovietica, surrounded on most of its perimeter by the USSR and its communist satellites, Romania and Bulgaria. Since the end of the Soviet empire, it has become the place where Russia, Crimea, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Georgia and especially Ukraine face each other. With regions annexed and under international embargo, ports bombed and destroyed, ships threatened, blockades and population displacements, the Black Sea has become a focal point for all these tensions.
Nevertheless some places along the coast continue to attract thousands of holidaymakers, despite the war, and often because of it. In Crimea or Sochi, the Russian Riviera, nightclubs and youth festivals thrive in the shadow of fighter bombers. Elsewhere, ports have never been so overloaded, even overwhelmed, as in Constantza in Romania, through which passes part of the Ukrainian export trade following the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa. Further still, the Turkish coastguards have never had so much work to control traffic and ships, as in the Bosphorus Strait, where they inspect cargo ships every day in search of weapons or prohibited goods.
The Black Sea is a crossroads of trade and culture. We look at how its residents live today under the disruption of the war in Ukraine.
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