On 30APR22, roughly nine months after its inauguration, and almost exactly 8 years to the day of the far-right Russian instigated 2014 Odesa clashes (02MAY14), Ukraine’s Odesa International Airport’s newest runway was shot to pieces in a Russian missile strike.
Odesa International Airport is Ukraine’s third largest airport and its “most modern aerodrome” (2020), having undergone a great deal of modernization within the past five to ten years. Around the
time of the runway inauguration on 16JUL21, Odesa International Airport’s Director General, Vitaliy Semenchenko, also announced that a new cargo terminal was being planned and due to open this
year: “We have an arrangement as a letter of understanding, which allow us to discuss, without sealing any rights and obligations, but confirming our interest, with the largest European cargo
operator. We are now in almost a daily dialogue on technical issues. The terminal is being formed, its volume and structure. It will definitely work in 2022.”
Not much more was revealed, other than it would be financed through private investments, and would be able to handle both temperature sensitive as well as dangerous goods.
Undeclared dangerous goods
However, this year, it was the airport’s newly completed, 1.2-billion-euro project which had taken 10 years to plan and implement, instead, that saw the arrival of “dangerous goods”. On 30APR22, a Russian Bastion missile attack launched from occupied Crimea onto Odesa’s civilian airport’s grounds, destroyed the 9-month-old runway. “As a result of a missile attack in the Odesa region, the runway at Odesa airport was damaged. Its further use is impossible,” Odesa Regional Governor (since 01MAR22), Maksym Marchenko, stated. Russia remained silent on the action, which in its continuing arbitrary attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, smacks of contemptible desperation.
Just one week earlier, on 23APR22, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson, Major General Igor Konashenkov, confirmed that a missile attack had been carried out that day in Odesa – this time on a military base: “This afternoon, high-precision air-launched missiles of the Russian Aerospace Forces disabled the logistics terminal at the military airfield near Odessa, which was storing a large batch of foreign weapons received from the United States and European countries.” He failed to mention what the Ukraine president's Chief of Staff, Andriy Yermak, revealed: that this missile attack had claimed the lives of five people, and had injured eighteen.
A clandestine cemetery…
Thankfully, the civilian airport runway attack on 30APR22, did not result in any casualties. At least none to add to the decades-old tragedy already inflicted by its Russian neighbors. Construction work at the airport in 2021, led to the discovery of one of the largest mass graves ever unearthed in Ukraine to date: more than two dozen graves containing the remains of around 5,000-8,000 people were found: victims either of Stalin’s Soviet-inflicted “Terror Famine” (Holodomor) genocide attempt of 1932-1933, which saw the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, or systematic executions carried out by Stalin's NKVD secret police unit (similar to the later KGB) during the Great Terror in 1937-39. At the time of the discovery, Sergiy Gutsalyuk, head of the regional branch of the National Memory Institute, stated that identifying the victims would be an impossible task, given that “the documents of that era are classified and kept in Moscow”, and that “these documents will never be handed over to us under the current government in Russia.”
War crimes, genocide, cover-up. History repeats itself.
An uncertain centenary
Addressing his nation on the evening of the airport runway bombing, Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised: “The Odesa airport runway was destroyed. We will, of course, rebuild it. But Odesa will never forget Russia’s behavior towards it.”
On 25MAY24, Odesa International Airport would be celebrating exactly 100 years since it saw its first passenger flight take off. Whether the runway will be operational by then, given a war that some predicted is now planned to end on 09MAY22 so as to [perversely] coincide with Russia’s annual Victory Day, celebrating defeat over Nazi Germany in 1945, and others say could go on for years, remains to be seen.
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