Sevastopol Taken - History

Sevastopol Taken - History

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On September 11th Sevastopol, the main Russian port on the Black Sea, was captured by the allied forces. Following the capture of Sevastopol, series negotiations began between the sides.


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Ukraine, country located in eastern Europe, the second largest on the continent after Russia. The capital is Kyiv (Kiev), located on the Dnieper River in north-central Ukraine.

A fully independent Ukraine emerged only late in the 20th century, after long periods of successive domination by Poland-Lithuania, Russia, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). Ukraine had experienced a brief period of independence in 1918–20, but portions of western Ukraine were ruled by Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia in the period between the two World Wars, and Ukraine thereafter became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (S.S.R.). When the Soviet Union began to unravel in 1990–91, the legislature of the Ukrainian S.S.R. declared sovereignty (July 16, 1990) and then outright independence (August 24, 1991), a move that was confirmed by popular approval in a plebiscite (December 1, 1991). With the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. in December 1991, Ukraine gained full independence. The country changed its official name to Ukraine, and it helped to found the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an association of countries that were formerly republics of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Russia to the east, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea to the south, Moldova and Romania to the southwest, and Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west. In the far southeast, Ukraine is separated from Russia by the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

8 Facts About the Crimean War

While it’s remembered as a clash of empires, the Crimean War was sparked by a seemingly minor religious dispute. For years, Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics had squabbled over access to holy sites within the borders of the majority-Muslim Ottoman Empire. Both France and Russia purported to be the defenders of these Ottoman Christians𠅏rance supported the Catholics and Russia the Orthodox𠅊nd in 1852 they began jockeying for recognition by the Ottoman government. When the Turks ignored some of his demands, the Russian Czar Nicholas I mobilized his army and occupied the Ottoman territories in what is now Romania. 

Fearing that the Czar was looking to dismantle the Ottoman Empire𠅊 weak regime he called the “sick man of Europe”𠅏rance and Britain cast their lot with the Turks and declared war on Russia in March 1854. The Crimean War soon transformed into an imperial struggle for influence over the ailing Ottoman Empire, but it never lost its religious overtones. British and French Christians roundly denounced the Russian Orthodox Church in the press, and many Russians and Turks came to view the conflict as a holy war between Eastern Christianity and Islam.

2. It wasn’t fought exclusively in Crimea.

Its name notwithstanding, the Crimean War was a global conflict that featured several different theaters of battle. Early clashes occurred in the Balkans and in Turkey, and the focus only shifted to Crimea after the Allies launched an invasion of the peninsula in September 1854. 

While most of the war’s most famous battles would eventually take place in Crimea, naval actions and intermittent fighting also erupted in such far flung places as the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Baltic and the White Sea on the Northwest coast of Russia. In August 1854, French and British forces even launched an unsuccessful attack on Petropavlovsk, a port city on Russia’s Pacific coastline near Siberia.

3. The Allied forces weren’t very fond of one another.

Though ostensibly united against Russia, the forces of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire were not natural allies. The British and the French were ancient enemies who had tangled during the Napoleonic Wars a few decades earlier, and they spent most of the Crimean campaign quarreling over strategy and field tactics. 

5th Dragoon Regiment of the British army, photographed by Roger Fenton.

ullstein bild/Getty Images

British commander-in-chief Lord Raglan, who had lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo, was even known to refer to the French—not the Russians𠅊s the 𠇎nemy.” Meanwhile, colonial prejudices ensured that both the French and the British mistreated their Ottoman allies, who were branded as unreliable and often beaten, ridiculed or relegated to manual labor. According to one account by a British interpreter, some of the European troops even forced the Turks to carry them on their shoulders whenever they marched across muddy roads or streams.

4. Most of the war was spent in an 11-month siege.

After invading the Crimean Peninsula in the autumn of 1854, the Allied forces scored a victory at the Battle of the Alma and then besieged the vital Russian naval hub at Sevastopol. They believed the city would fall in a matter of weeks, but following a series of bloody Russian counterattacks at the Battles of Balaclava and Inkerman, the war settled into a stalemate. 

In what became a preview of World War I’s Western Front, both sides dug extensive trench lines around Sevastopol. Soldiers were forced to suffer through a brutal Russian winter, and many fell victim to “trench madness,” or shell shock, from the constant artillery bombardments and threat of enemy raids. It would eventually take 11 months before a French assault forced the Russians to evacuate Sevastopol. The city’s fall was the symbolic end of the Crimean War, but scattered fighting continued until Russia finally admitted defeat the following year.

5. It was the first war to feature news correspondents and battlefield photographers. 

Thanks to new technologies such as the steamship and the electric telegraph, the Crimean War was the first major conflict where civilian journalists sent dispatches from the battlefield. 

The most notable war correspondent was William Howard Russell, a Times of London reporter who won legions of readers𠅊nd the hatred of many generals𠅏or his descriptions of British military blunders and the appalling conditions of the army’s camps and hospitals. Russell’s reports helped convince the British government to allow nurses such as Florence Nightingale to join in the war effort, and his coverage of the disastrous 𠇌harge of the Light Brigade” at the Battle of Balaclava inspired Alfred Tennyson to pen his poem of the same name. 

The Valley of the Shadow of Death, photographed by Roger Fenton. The image shows a ravine covered with cannon balls, an indication of the horror of the Crimean War.

The war was also brought to life by photographers such as Roger Fenton and James Robertson, who produced hundreds of wet-plate images of battlefields and soldiers in uniform. While their pictures were often staged�nton famously moved cannonballs into a road for a photo titled “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”—they became hugely popular on the home front.

6. The war launched Leo Tolstoy’s literary career.

Along with dashing their hopes of victory in Crimea, the Siege of Sevastopol also introduced the Russians to one of their most legendary authors. Leo Tolstoy spent several months serving in defense of the city as an artillery officer, and was one of the last people to evacuate during its fall on September 9, 1855—which also happened to be his 27th birthday. 

In between skirmishes and bombardments, the young writer penned a series of unflinching accounts of the siege that were published under the title “Sevastopol Sketches.” Though partially censored by the government, the gritty dispatches gave readers a firsthand glimpse of the horrors of combat, and their popularity helped vault Tolstoy to literary stardom after the war ended. A decade later, the great author would once again draw on his Crimean War experiences while writing one of his most famous works—the epic novel War and Peace.

7. Florence Nightingale wasn’t the war’s only famous nurse.

British nurse Florence Nightingale is famous for pioneering sanitary and administrative techniques in the Crimean War’s disease-ridden hospitals, but she wasn’t the conflict’s only notable medical figure. Allied soldiers also received aid from Mary Seacole, a Jamaican-born woman who traveled to Crimea and divided her time between selling supplies, food and medicine and treating the wounded on the front lines. 

Battles during the siege [ edit | edit source ]

Three 17th Century Church Bells in Arundel Castle United Kingdom. These were taken from Sevastopol as trophies at the end of the Siege of Sevastopol

The British sent a pair of cannon seized at Sevastopol to each of several important cities in the Empire. ⎦] ⎧] Additionally, several were sent to the Royal Military College Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy Woolwich. These cannon now all reside at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (renamed after the closing of RMA Woolwich shortly after the Second World War) and are displayed in front of Old College next to cannon from Waterloo and other battles.

The cascabel (the large ball at the rear of old muzzle-loaded guns) of several cannon captured during the siege have been used to make the British Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the British Armed Forces. The metal from these cascabels will soon be exhausted, and there is some uncertainty as to what metal will be used once this occurs. There is some doubt as to the origin of the metal used in some of the medals awarded during the First World War.

Sevastopol Taken - History

This text has been taken, with the author's kind permission, from Christopher Hibbert's The Destruction of Lord Raglan (Longmans, 1961), pp.107-110. Copyright, of course, remains with Dr. Hibbert. Alvin Wee of the University Scholar's Programme, scanned the image, converting it to electronic format. — Marjie Bloy Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore.

Mentschikoff had left Sebastopol to be garrisoned by sixteen thousand men, three-quarters of whom were sailors, some of them armed only with boarding-pikes. General Möller, in command of the land forces, had a single battalion of engineers the rest of his men were ill-trained militia. Both he and Vice-Admiral Nachimoff, who had been left to share the command of the sailors with Korniloff, were despondent and unsure of themselves and relieved when the dynamic Korniloff seemed willing to take supreme command. They were relieved also that there was in Sebastopol a man who was not content to rely for its defence on rhetoric, faith and courage.

Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Eduard Ivanovitch Todleben was a man whose talents as a military engineer were close to genius. Born in the Baltic provinces of Russia, Todleben was in appearance, origin and temperament a Prussian. He was tall and broad-shouldered and had a commanding presence. His eyes were penetrating, his nose long and beaked, his large, well-brushed moustache followed in its downward curves a wide, determined mouth. He was only thirty-seven but already enjoyed a reputation as a revolutionary military thinker, refusing to accept the concept of a fortress as a static position. The defences of a fortress, as of an entrenched position, must, he thought, be made elastic and capable of constant alteration and modification as the exigencies of the siege demanded. It was an idea which, given time, he was determined to apply to Sebastopol.

He was given the opportunity of doing so almost too late. He had been introduced by Gortschakoff to Mentschikoff as a man who had given helpful advice at Silistria and would certainly be useful at Sebastopol. On arrival in the Crimea he had received Prince Mentschikoff's permission to study the defences of Sebastopol, but his report had been so unflattering to the Prince that Mentschikoff had suggested that he should leave. Todleben did not immediately do so, and within a few days the allies had landed and the danger that Mentschikoff had dismissed as chimerical was real and urgent. The young Colonel of Engineers was left to do in a few days the work of months.

Map of the defences of Sevastopol and the position of the fleet on 17 October 1854.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Immediately he accepted the impossibility of making Sebastopol impregnable overnight. The sea defences on the east were already strong. Several earthworks and stone gun-emplacements effectively covered the entrances to the roadstead, and a line of ships had been sunk on Mentschikoff's orders across its mouth. This had brought tears of rage and humiliation to Admiral Korniloff's eyes, as it had made it impossible for the Black Sea Fleet to get out of the Man of War Harbour, but it had at least made it impossible for the allied navies to get in. A successful attack from the west could also be discounted owing to the length of the roadstead and the deep and narrow ravine at its end which could be raked by a murderous fire from the fleet and from a few land batteries on the crests of the ridges above the ravine. And so it was on the north side that Todleben had expected an assault after the retreat from the Alma. The immense Star Fort had accordingly been strengthened and improved and other defences had been built. Even so he believed, as Raglan had done, that an attack on the north could not have been successfully resisted. But now the allies had gone round to the other side of the town, and he could devote all his energy and talents to the defence of the south. Owing to Prince Mentschikoff's stubborn insistence that the allies would never reach Sebastopol and that good money should not be spent on needless defences, there was much to do. And Todleben, riding on his immense black horse backwards and forwards, day and night, along his line of gun-emplacements saw that it was done. Leaving a mass of letters, orders and directions unanswered or unopened on the desk in the room he shared with Korniloff, he went out siting guns, extending fields of fire, linking batteries, ensuring that each night, if not complete, the defences were as sound as they could be made until a new day and a few more hours' reprieve brought the opportunity of improving them.

On 25 September when Korniloff, looking through the high windows of the Naval Library, saw the allied armies marching down into the valley of the Tchernaya and realised that the south of the town would soon be threatened, these defences were little more than walls and mounds of loose earth and rubble. But slowly the 'thing like a low park wall' which General Cathcart had spoken of with such disdain became an extended system of forrmidable strength four miles long. There were six main redoubts, arranged in a semicircle so that the guns in those nearest the town, at either end of the line, could support the guns in those more advanced in the centre. Nearest the sea on the west was the Quarantine Bastion next to this the Central Bastion in the centre and sticking out like the blunted point of an arrow towards the allied armies, the Flagstaff Bastion and the Redan behind and to the east of the Redan, the Malakoff and farther to the east, the Little Redan. Heavy guns were trundled out of the town and placed in battery in these six redoubts and the smaller ones between them sailors dragged up ships' guns from the harbour women carried out wash-tubs and linen-baskets filled with round shot and ammunition convicts were brought out of the prison and set to work with pickaxes and spades and children, screaming with excitement, helped their parents throw up these gigantic sand-castles under the warm sun by day, and by the light of flaring torches by night.

The days and nights passed and the assault expected each dawn did not come. On 28 September, Lieutenant Stetzenko came into the town from Prince Mentschikoff to 'enquire about the state of Sebastopol' and was told that the garrison must be reinforced. Two days later the Prince himself arrived, and the request for more men was repeated. Mentschikoff, although his field army had been reinforced by 10,000 men from Odessa, demurred. He had lost so many officers at the Alma, the enemy armies were very strong, he was just about to make a threatening movement against their right flank. Admiral Korniloff lost patience with him and wrote him a letter of remonstrance, a copy of which he intended should be seen by the Czar. Persuaded at last that further resistance might be damaging, Mentschikoff gave way. On 1 October fourteen battalions of Russian infantry entered Sebastopol. By the 9th, 28,000 Russian troops had moved in.

At last Admiral Korniloff could feel secure. 'Notwithstanding the number of our enemies . on the south side of the bay,' he now confided to his diary, 'we have no fear of not repelling them. Unless', he added in touching humility, 'our God forsakes us and in that case His holy Will be done. It is the duty of men to submit to Him in resignation as He is always just.'

Todleben also felt more relieved. Each day his defences were securer than the day before. When it became obvious that the allies were settling down to a siege the garrison troops shook each other cheerfully by the hand as if they had won a great battle. 'Everyone in Sebastopol,' he said, 'rejoiced at the happy event.'

For three weeks the allies had remained silently on the plains to the south, their guns not firing, their fleet lying placidly at anchor. Only the duster of thousands of tents gave evidence of the presence of large armies, and only the lines and mounds of broken earth suggested what those armies intended to do.

World War II Database

ww2dbase When Operation Barbarossa launched in mid-1941, the Crimean Peninsula in Russia (now Ukraine) was not even in the plans. It was assumed that when major Soviet political centers such as Moscow fell under German control, the entire Soviet Union would just fall apart. That thinking quickly changed in Jul 1941, when two Soviet naval aircraft attacks on Axis oil fields at Ploiesti, Romania, launched from Sevastopol, destroyed 11,000 tons of oil. On 23 Jul 1941, Adolf Hitler issued Directive 33 which not only called for the conquest of Crimea, but it was also to be done as a priority. On 21 Aug, Hitler further stated that "the seizure of the Crimean Peninsula has colossal importance for the protection of oil supplies from Romania."

ww2dbase The German force tasked for this conquest was the 11th Army, newly assigned under Colonel General Erich von Manstein. In Oct 1941, the 11th Army was relieved of other duties from Operation Barbarossa, thus it was now focused on the attack on Crimea. Lacking ample tanks, Manstein could not perform the kind of mobile war he advocated and succeeded in France. Instead, he now must rely on his infantry. Under his command were also Romanian troops. Some of the Romanians, particularly the Mountain Brigade troops, were known to be elite fighters, but overall the Romanians were ill-equipped, therefore never deployed independently without direct German support.

ww2dbase Axis Invasion of Crimea

ww2dbase Beginning on 18 Oct, General Erik Hansen of the German LIV Corps, with 22nd, 46th, and 73rd Infantry Divisions, attacked the Soviet 51st Army at Ishun. Although the Soviets had greater numbers and local air superiority, Hansen's troops slowly advanced, taking Ishun on 28 Oct after the arrival of three groups of Bf 109 fighters that defeated the Soviet air forces. The Soviet troops fell back to Sevastopol, which marked the start of the siege.

ww2dbase Siege of Sevastopol

ww2dbase Even before the remnants of the Soviet 51st Army began to flee into Sevastopol, the senior naval commander there, Vice Admiral Filip S. Oktyabrsky, had already drafted thousands of men from the region to construct defenses. He also formed several naval infantry units by removing sailors from their ships the sailors were not trained in ground combat, but they helped boost the numbers Oktyabrsky desperately needed to man the front lines. On 30 Oct, the Soviet Navy Black Sea Fleet brought in the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade from Novorossiysk to further alleviate the situation.

ww2dbase On 30 Oct 1941, forward units of the German 132nd Infantry Division were detected. Soviets opened fire with 305-mm coastal defense guns on the next day on suspected German locations the location of these guns, Coastal Battery 30, would soon to be dubbed "Fort Maxim Gorky I" to the Germans. Meanwhile, Soviet naval infantry held off the initial attack on Sevastopol. On 9 Nov, 19,894 troops, ten T-26 tanks, 152 guns, and 20 mortars arrived by sea. By this point, 52,000 troops were available under Oktyabrsky's command.

ww2dbase On 10 Nov, Manstein finally felt he was prepared enough to begin a formal assault. The German 50th Infantry Division under Lieutenant General Friedrich Schmidt attacked first, capturing Uppa near the Chernaya River, southeast of Sevastopol. On the next day, the 132nd Infantry Division under Lieutenant General Fritz Lindemann took the village of Mekenzya to the northeast. By 15 Nov, the attack was halted by the ferocity of Soviet sailors and soldiers, aided by naval gunfire support from battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna. Manstein called off the offensive on 21 Nov after suffering 2,000 casualties, though Soviet casualty numbers were much higher.

ww2dbase Between 7 and 13 Dec 1941, Oktyabrsky received, by sea, the 11,000-strong newly formed 388th Rifle Division. Soviet engineers also took the opportunity to lay extensive minefields while Manstein's men regrouped for the next attack.

ww2dbase The next German offensive began on 17 Dec. At 0610, a bombardment by artillery pieces, 34 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, and 20 level bombers prepared for the assault, which began with the 22nd Infantry Division attacking grounds held by the Soviet 8th Naval Infantry Brigade north of the Belbek River. Shortly after, German 50th and 132nd Infantry Divisions also launched their attacks against the center of the defensive line. On 22 Dec, the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade gave way, falling back toward the city. On 23 Dec, German 170th Infantry Division and the Romanian 1st Mountain Brigade captured Chapel Hill, a strategic position southeast of the city.

ww2dbase Meanwhile, Axis forces also marched eastward toward Kerch on the eastern side of the peninsula. Soviet Lieutenant General Vladmir N. L'vov performed a daring amphibious landing with 5,000 soldiers of the 51st Army on 26 Dec, followed by a larger landing of 23,000 men of the 44th Army, with a battalion of tanks, at Feodosiya on 29 Dec. This move forced the Germans to delay the next attack on Sevastopol so that this new contingent could be dealt with.

ww2dbase Previously, Hitler had dictated that Sevastopol to be taken before the end of the year to improve morale damaged as the invasion of Russia ground to a halt. That order was not to be met. Thus far, German casualties were much greater than originally expected. The Germans suffered 8,595 casualties in the period of 17 to 31 Dec alone. The Soviets, typical for any WW2 battle involving the Soviets, suffered greater losses 7,000 Soviets were killed and 20,000 were captured.

ww2dbase On 15 Jan 1942, Manstein called for a hasty counterattack which captured Feodosiya. Although this attack was launched before his troops were truly ready, therefore unable to wipe out the Soviet 44th and 51st Armies, but he knew by such an attack he would prevent the Soviets from gaining initiative in this campaign. The Soviets knew that they must gain the initiative as well, and in this attempt a series of offensives were taken between Feb and Apr 1942. Every single on of these offensives failed to break the German lines, which continued to besiege Sevastopol by land.

ww2dbase After a long period of preparation, Manstein finally decided he could take major action again. On 8 May 1942, he launched Operation Trappenjagd, which called for General Maximilian For-Pico's XXX Corps to attack the Soviet 44th Army on the southern coast. The operation launched at 0415 that morning with a 10-minute artillery barrage. By 0730, the Soviet front line troops were completely smashed at the pressure of German frontal attacks and the small landing by the 902nd Assault Boat Command and the 436th Infantry Regiment behind their lines. As the Soviet lines broke, multiple German and Romanian forces moved eastward toward Kerch. By 9 May, the important airfield at Marfovka 30-km from where the offensive began was already under German control, destroying 35 I-153 fighters on the ground. The Soviet commander, Lieutenant General Dmitri T. Kozlov, panicked, leading to a state of indecisiveness from Soviet command. Pressing on, Manstein sent in the German 22nd Panzer Division, which very quickly destroyed much of the 51st Army, which promptly surrendered. On 14 May, German troops entered the city of Kerch on the eastern tip of the Crimean Peninsula, and on 20 May they declared the city secured. Due to Kozlov and his staff's panic and inaction, only 37,000 Soviet troops were evacuated from Kerch. 28,000 Soviet soldiers were killed and 147,000 were captured. This meant that Manstein's victory in central and eastern Crimea effectively destroyed three Soviet Armies at the cost of only 3,397 casualties.

ww2dbase After Operation Trappenjagd, the 22nd Panzer Division was withdrawn from Crimea and sent north to prepare for operations at Kharkov.

ww2dbase With pressure from the east alleviated, Germans concentrated on Sevastopol again by launching Operation Störfang. At 0540 on 2 Jun 1942, a large bombardment began on defensive positions near Sevastopol. At 0600, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, joined in and dropped 570 tons of bombs on the first day. Over the next few days, the bombardment continued, with ferocity increasing every day. The bombardment focused generally on the northern portion of the Soviet defensive line. Between 2 and 6 Jun, 42,595 rounds, equivalent to 2,449 tons of munitions, were fired, which included heavy shells from the 80-cm "Gustav" railway gun and the "Karl" mortars, though these super-weapons were largely inaccurate and ineffective. The failure of "Gustav" could be blamed on General Arty Johannes Zuckertort, who fired too few "Gustav" shells at too many targets, making the monster weapon inconsequential in the outcome of the battle. Zuckertort's misuse of the "Gustav" gun actually brought scolding from Hitler by cable.

ww2dbase During the night of 6 Jun, the Soviets, who had held their artillery fire thus far to avoid counter-battery fire, finally opened fire on suspected German assembly areas. Oktyabrsky knew that a major attack had to be coming at the northern part of his defensive line, otherwise the bombardment would not have lasted so long. As Oktyabrsky suspected, the Germans were on the move. Men from the 132nd Infantry Division moved toward the Belbek River and men of the 22nd Infantry Division moved toward Ölberg. Advance was slow, but the Germans did advance amidst heavy Soviet mortar and aerial attacks. In the afternoon, at 1850, the first and only counterattack was launched by a battalion of the Soviet 747th Rifle Regiment this counterattack was repulsed. Although the initial day of the attack was successful, casualties were high. The Germans suffered 2,357 casualties, including 340 killed.

ww2dbase Also on 7 Jun, Fretter-Pico, whose XXX Corps manned the southern portion of the Soviet defensive line, decided he was not going to sit while the generals to the north gained glory during the large offensive and began probing the Soviet defenders. Although he made some minor advances, his attack caused too many casualties, and he was told by Manstein not to attack in a piecemeal fashion again.

ww2dbase On 8 Jun, the Soviets struck first with a counterattack. Although supported by tanks, coordination between infantry, artillery, and tank units was poor, thus the offensive was a failure. At 1000, the German LIV Corps struck. After suffering 1,700 casualties, the LIV Corps dented the Soviet line by driving 3-km closer to Sevastopol on a 15-km front. On 9 Jun, the German 132nd Infantry Division of the LIV Corps attacked Coastal Battery 30, "Fort Maxim Gorky I", but was repulsed twice, at 1000 and 1200, by the Soviet 95th Rifle Division. 9 Jun also saw other Soviet counterattacks, some with tanks, but the counterattacks were indecisive.

ww2dbase On 11 Jun, Soviet Major General Ivan Efimovich Petrov organized a major counterattack utilizing every piece of artillery available in Sevastopol against the German 132nd Infantry Division at Haccius Ridge. Some pincers of the counterattack reach as deep as 1-km behind German lines, but in the end the Soviet units were too depleted, in both spirit and ammunition, to leverage this success. The territorial gains were given back by the end of the day, especially in the face of effective German aerial attacks. In the south, Fretter-Pico's XXX Corps made another attempt to advance. The German 72nd Infantry Division's 401st Regiment seized Chapel Hill, which enabled the rest of the division to drive 2-km into Soviet defensive lines, taking Kamary. As the Soviet defenses broke down further, Fretter-Pico sent in his reserves, the 266th Infantry Regiment, and took control of Fort Kuppe.

ww2dbase On 13 Jun, Hansen's LIV Corps took control of Fort Stalin, which was a weakly-defended reinforced concrete anti-aircraft position with three machine gun bunkers. Although it was only manned by about 200 Soviets, the defenders fought bravely for an hour before giving way. At 0530, as the Soviets realized Fort Stalin had fallen, the nearby Fort Volga opened up its artillery pieces on Fort Stalin, followed by a counterattack at 0630, which failed to regain the fort. Most of the 200 defenders at the fort were killed by 1500 that day. Small-scale but yet tough combat such as the one that took place at Fort Stalin repeated through the next few days, making the battle one of attrition.

ww2dbase On 17 Jun, Hansen launched the 132nd Infantry Division against Coastal Battery 30, "Fort Maxim Gorky I", while the 22nd and 24th Infantry Divisions marched through the center of the Soviet defenses. At 0330, the 22nd and 24th Divisions broke through the Soviet lines held by the 95th Rifle Division and surrounded a contingent at the train station. The Soviet line collapsed by 0520, leaving Coastal Battery 30 on its own. The German 436th and 437th Infantry Regiments reached the fort by 0900, and the attack began in the afternoon. At 1630, a dive bomber hit destroyed the fort's western turret, while the other turrets were slowing down because they were running low on ammunition. Under this kind of pressure, the whole Soviet defense to the north, dubbed Defensive Sector IV, completely collapsed between 18 and 23 Jun. As German pioneer forces methodically cleared out Soviet bunkers with grenades and flamethrowers, the German troops caught sight of the Severnaya Bay by 20 Jun. On 21 Jun, after a two-day battle, German troops captured Fort Lenin along with 182 prisoners. On 23 Jun, Fort Konstantinovsky was captured. With the northern defenses defeated, Hansen's troops moved south, where Fretter-Pico's advances were much slower.

ww2dbase To make up for XXX Corps' slow advance, the Romanians were called in to assist. Before this time, Major General Gheorghe Avramescu's troops had not been tasked to perform any major offensives. However, as they launched their first multi-division offensive, they proved their worth by defeating Soviet defenses near the Chernaya River where the Germans had failed, went on to take a Soviet strongpoint dubbed Bastion II, and then fended off a counterattack. On 27 Jun, Hansen's troops linked up with those of Avramescu's east of the Chernaya River.

ww2dbase At 0100 on 29 Jun 1942, German troops of the 132nd Infantry Division achieved total surprise by crossing 600-m of water of Severnaya Bay, assisted by the German 902nd and 905th Assault Boat Commands and their 130 boats. It was not until 0200 when the Soviets realized what was happening and fired off red flares to warn their headquarters, but it was too late as the beachhead had already been secured. Petrov had six T-26 tanks in reserve that could be used to attack beachhead, but again he was indecisive and the opportunity was lost. To the south, the German XXX Corps attacked Sapun Ridge at 0130, defeating the Soviet 7th Naval Brigade and the 775th Rifle Regiment by 0715, though scattered battles lasted through the afternoon. The German victories at the edge of the Severnaya Bay in the north and at Sapun Ridge in the south cut off Soviet troops in pockets, making them relatively inconsequential for the remainder of the attack on Sevastopol.

ww2dbase At 0130 on 30 Jun, Soviets destroyed a major ammunition dump near Severnaya Bay to prevent German capture. The ammunition dump was located inside a champagne factory, which also acted as a field hospital for 2,000 wounded men. Many of the wounded might still be in the building when it was demolished.

ww2dbase At 0950 on 30 Jun, Moscow ordered Sevastopol to be evacuated. Whatever defense was left soon turned to nothing as soldiers fled every way to try to save themselves. At 0300 on 1 Jul, Petrov and Oktyabrsky fled via submarine, giving little thought to the 23,000 men still left in the city, many of them wounded. Later that day, German troops entered the city. Manstein tried to exclude his Romanian comrades from sharing the glory by ordering them to stay out of the final drive, but Major General Gheorghe Manoliu disobeyed the order by driving his 4th Mountain Division into Sevastopol and placing a Romanian flag on the Nakhimov Monument in the city. The final act of defiance was committed by troops of the Soviet 109th Rifle Division fighting from the bunkers around Coastal Battery 35 and men who fought at the Cape Chersonese airstrip. Both pockets were defeated on 4 Jul.

ww2dbase Conclusion of the Battle

ww2dbase The battle of Sevastopol was costly for both sides even by the most conservative of estimates. About 18,000 Soviets were killed and 95,000 were captured only 25,157 were successfully evacuated. The German 11th Army saw 4,264 killed, 21,626 wounded, and 1,522 missing for a total of over 27,000 casualties. Manstein estimated the German losses at about 24,000. The Romanians suffered 1,597 killed, 6,571 wounded, and 277 missing for a total of 8,454 casualties. Other sources quoted higher casualty numbers, though the counts are likely to be inflated by various intentions.

ww2dbase The city of Sevastopol also suffered dearly, largely to the long artillery campaign. In the city limits, only 5 to 10 buildings were left standing, the rest were reduced to rubbles.

ww2dbase Before the city was even fully secured, Manstein was given the rank of field marshal for the victory, and was given a vacation in Romania for him to rest. As soon as he left, SS-Einsatzgruppe D moved into Sevastopol and began a systematic genocide of Jews. For the following two years that the Germans held the city, the killing spree continued as it was controlled by the SS official SS-Gruppenführer Ludolf von Alvensleben.

ww2dbase Source: Robert Forczyk, Sevastopol 1942

Last Major Update: Jan 2008

Battle of Sevastopol Timeline

24 Sep 1941 The German Armeegruppe Sud started its offensive from southern Ukraine towards Crimea, Russia.
18 Oct 1941 German Colonel General Erich von Manstein launched his Eleventh Army against the Perekop Isthmus in Russia but fierce Soviet resistance on a narrow front caused the German advance to proceed extremely slowly.
27 Oct 1941 Erich von Manstein's German Eleventh Army broke through the mud and fog on the Perekop Isthmus into the Crimean Peninsula in Russia.
29 Oct 1941 German forces pushed Soviet units back to Sevastopol, Russia.
30 Oct 1941 German 132nd Infantry Division reached the outskirts of Sevastopol, Russia. After sundown, Soviet cruiser Krasnyi Kavkaz brought in the Soviet 8th Naval Infantry Brigade from Novorossiysk as reinforcements, while the Soviet Black Sea Fleet relocated many of its warships out of Sevastopol as a safety measure.
31 Oct 1941 Soviet destroyer Bodry and other warships shelled German tank concentrations 25 miles north of Sevastopol, Russia. Meanwhile, German dive bombers attacked Soviet warships in the harbor, causing 50 casualties but failing to cause damage to the ships.
1 Nov 1941 Troops of the German 11.Armee captured Simferopol, Russia. To the southwest in Sevastopol, the Soviet 30th Coastal Battery bombarded the German 132nd Infantry Division at 1230 hours near the village of Bazarchik, slowing its preparations for an assault.
2 Nov 1941 German 132nd Infantry Division attacked toward Sevastopol, Russia and was halted at Bakhchisaray by Soviet 8th Naval Brigade. Nearby, ships of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet evacuated troops from Yalta, Yevpatoria, and Feodosiya, transporting them to Sevastopol cruiser Voroshilov was damaged by German aircraft during this effort.
4 Nov 1941 German 170th Division captured Feodosiya, Ukraine.
7 Nov 1941 Soviet hospital ship Armenia departed Yalta, Ukraine at 0800 hours with 7,000 civilians and wounded troops aboard, against orders forbidding sailing during daylight hours. At 1129 hours, despite the red cross marking, she was attacked and sunk by a He 111 bomber of German KG26. Only 8 people survived.
9 Nov 1941 The 19,894-strong Soviet Independent Coastal Army, with 10 T-26 tanks and 152 guns, arrived in Sevastopol, Russia from Odessa, Ukraine, significantly bolstering the city's defenses. 40 kilometers east of Sevastopol, German troops captured Yalta.
10 Nov 1941 German General Erich von Manstein launched a major assault against Sevastopol, Russia with 50th Infantry Division, followed by the 132nd Infantry Division on the next day. On the Soviet side, Vice Admiral F. S. Oktyabrsky (with Major General I. A. Petrov as his deputy) mobilized 52,000 men, of whom 21,000 were sailors, together with 170 guns (some were in modern steel and concrete emplacements), for the defence of Sevastopol.
12 Nov 1941 Stuka dive bombers of German StG 77 damaged Soviet cruiser Chervona Ukraina with 3 bombs at Sevastopol, Russia. Destroyers Sovershenny and Besposhchadny were also damaged, with the former capsizing at the naval shipyard.
13 Nov 1941 Soviet cruiser Chervona Ukraina, damaged by German aircraft on the previous day, sank at Sevastopol, Russia. Her guns would be salvaged to be used on shore.
16 Nov 1941 The German 11.Armee captured Kerch, Russia. Soviet Deputy Navy Commissar Admiral Gordei Levchenko was arrested after being deemed responsible for this defeat.
17 Dec 1941 Another German assault on Sevastopol, Russia was launched, consisted of 15,551 men.
19 Dec 1941 The Soviets landed 20,000 men on the Kerch Peninsula in Russia with the aim of lifting the siege of Sevastopol.
26 Dec 1941 Soviet troops conducted an amphibious assault on the Kerch Peninsula in an attempt to relieve the siege of Sevastopol, Russia, landing 13,000 men of the Soviet 51st Army.
27 Dec 1941 46th Infantry Division of the German 11th Army counterattacked the Soviet beachheads on the Kerch Peninsula, Russia, but the attacks failed to stop further Soviet reinforcements from the sea.
29 Dec 1941 The Soviet 44th Army landed 23,000 men and a battalion of tanks at Feodosiya to reinforce Sevastopol, Russia at 0350 hours. In response, General Hans von Sponeck ordered the German 46th Infantry Division to fall back, losing much heavy equipment in the process and against Adolf Hitler's "no retreat" order.
30 Dec 1941 German troops retreated from Kerch, Russia.
31 Dec 1941 Germans halted their attacks on Sevastopol, Russia for the winter.
5 Jan 1942 The Soviet attempt to land at Eupatoria (Yevpatoria) was blocked by the Germans.
18 Jan 1942 German 11.Armee captured Feodosiya in the Crimea region of Russia, sealing off the Soviet bridgehead near Kerch.
13 Mar 1942 A major Soviet attack was launched out of Kerch Peninsula in Russia in an attempt to relieve the besieged city of Sevastopol.
20 Mar 1942 Soviet Army's Kerch offensive in Russia was defeated with heavy losses. To the west, German counter attack at Sevastopol failed, resulting in the loss of the 22nd Division.
9 Apr 1942 Repeated Soviet attacks on German positions at Kerch, Russia failed to break through.
11 Apr 1942 A Soviet landing attempt near Eupatoria (Yevpatoria) near Sevastopol, Russia was halted by the Germans.
8 May 1942 The German 11.Armee began its Crimean offensive.
10 May 1942 The German 11th Army pushed through Soviet positions and advanced toward Sevastopol, Russia. Meanwhile, Axis aircraft attacked Soviet vessel Chernomorets evacuating 500 wounded troops from the Crimean Peninsula all aboard the vessel were killed.
12 May 1942 Soviet troops began to withdraw from the Kerch peninsula in Russia, freeing some German resources for the offensive near Kharkov, Ukraine to the north.
16 May 1942 German troops captured the city of Kerch and the namesake peninsula in Russia Soviet troops in the area began a 5-day evacuation under heavy fire.
17 May 1942 German troops began capturing large numbers of artillery pieces and munitions around Kerch, Russia, which they would later use against Sevastopol.
2 Jun 1942 German forces began a 5-day bombardment of Sevastopol, Russia. One the ground, large weapons such as the 600mm Mörser Karl mortars and the 800mm "Gustav" railway gun were used. From the air, hundreds of sorties delivered 500 tons of high explosives, damaging port facilities, fuel tanks, and water pumps at the cost of only one Ju 87 dive bomber.
3 Jun 1942 German aircraft continued to attack Sevastopol, Russia.
5 Jun 1942 German troops continued the aerial and artillery bombardment of Sevastopol, Russia, using weapons including the 800mm railway gun Schwerer Gustav.
6 Jun 1942 German troops continued the bombardment of Sevastopol, Russia with large caliber weapons.
7 Jun 1942 Troops of German 11th Army began a 2-pronged assault on the city of Sevastopol in Russia, capturing Belbek at 1715 hours but also suffering 2,357 casualties.
9 Jun 1942 Failing to break Soviet defensive lines, the German offensive at Sevastopol, Russia that began two days prior was temporarily paused, instead letting aircraft and artillery pieces soften up the defensive positions further.
10 Jun 1942 German dive bombers sank Soviet destroyer Svobodnyy and transport Abkhaziya in port at Sevastopol, Russia.
11 Jun 1942 The German Luftwaffe flew 1,044 sorties over Sevastopol, Russia, dropping 954 tons of bombs.
13 Jun 1942 Troops of 16.Regiment of German 22.Luftlande Division attacked Fort Stalin at Sevastopol, Russia at 0300 hours, capturing it by 0530 hours Germans suffered 32 killed and 126 wounded, and the Soviets 100 killed and 20 captured. In the harbor, German aircraft sank transport Gruzyia, transport TSch-27, patrol boat SKA-092, motor boat SP-40, 5 barges, and a floating crane.
15 Jun 1942 Soviet cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bezuprechny landed 3,855 troops at Sevastopol, Russia and then embarked 2,908 wounded personnel for evacuation meanwhile, their guns bombarded German positions.
16 Jun 1942 German aircraft and artillery pieces bombarded Fort Maxim Gorky at Sevastopol, Russia, silencing the fort's 12-inch guns.
17 Jun 1942 Soviet defense lines north of Sevastopol, Russia began to collapse as German troops captured Fort Maxim Gorky, Fort Molotov, Fort Schishkova, Fort Volga, and Fort Siberia.
18 Jun 1942 German 132nd Infantry Division attacked Soviet Coastal Battery No. 12 near Sevastopol, Russia at 1100 hours, capturing it by 1900 hours. Nearby, German 24th Infantry Division overran Soviet defenses at Bartenyevka. At the docks, Italian torpedo boats performed a raid, damaging landing craft. Out at sea, destroyer leader Kharkov was damaged by German aircraft.
19 Jun 1942 Soviet 138th Naval Infantry Brigade launched a failed counterattack against German 22nd Division on the shore of Severnaya Bay near Sevastopol, Russia.
20 Jun 1942 German 24th Infantry Division attacked Fort Lenin and Fort North (held against German attacks for the whole day) near Sevastopol, Russia starting at 0900 hours while Fort Lenin was captured with minimal resistance, Soviet troops at Fort North held their ground, repulsing German attacks all day.
22 Jun 1942 Soviet lines east and south of Sevastopol, Russia began to falter.
26 Jun 1942 German troops reached the northern shore of Severnaya Bay near Sevastopol, Russia. To the east of the city, positions held by troops of Soviet 386th Rifle Division were bombarded by German aircraft. As defeat appeared to be imminent, Soviet submarines D-6 and A-1 were scuttled in the harbor of Sevastopol to prevent capture.
28 Jun 1942 Before dawn, Italian torpedo boats staged a fake landing at Cape Fiolent south of Sevastopol, Russia as a diversion from the preparations for a major offensive north of the city.
29 Jun 1942 Troops of German 16th Infantry Regiment and 65th Infantry Regiment crossed Severnaya Bay north of Sevastopol, Russia in 130 rubber boats, landing behind Soviet defenses at 0100 hours, establishing a bridgehead.
1 Jul 1942 As the German bridgehead north of Sevastopol, Russia appeared to be too strong to be eliminated, Joseph Stalin ordered top Soviet leaders to evacuate the city by submarine.
3 Jul 1942 German troops captured Sevastopol, Russia.

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Rare unseen photos showing Sevastopol after the Nazi occupation

Sevastopol, a city in the southwest of the Crimean Peninsula, found itself under occupation at the very beginning of World War 2. In fact, its occupation marked the start of the Great Fatherland War - in 1941 the city was the first to come under attack from Hitler's Air Force because the Black Sea Fleet was based there.

"The Crimea should be cleared of all outsiders and settled by Germans," Adolf Hitler said on July 19, 1941. For 250 days Sevastopol mounted a defense, but then it fell, and came under the command of the SS. The whole population was re-registered, punitive detachments scoured the city and over 20 camps for prisoners of war almost immediately appeared on its territory. The occupation lasted until May 9, 1944.

Seventy-five years on, the Ministry of Defense has published previously unseen archive documents and photographs showing the liberation of the city.

The inscriptions on the backs of the photographs were made by one of the first army officers to walk through the ruins of liberated Sevastopol.

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Residential buildings on Lenin Street

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Maritime Library building

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

A residential building on Lenin Street

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Factory on Karl Marx Street

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Beheaded statue of Eduard Totleben [Russian general]

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

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The importance of Sevastopol for Russia

The port city on the Black Sea was founded by Russian Empress Catherine the Great on the southwest coast of the Crimean Peninsula in 1783, on the site of an ancient Greek town called Chersoneus, whose ruins are still being explored by archaeologists.

It was Catherine the Great who chose the name for the new city, which is translated from Greek as &ldquohighly esteemed,&rdquo &ldquoholy or majestic city,&rdquo and &ldquocity of glory&rdquo. The main thing that attracted the empress and her military commanders to Crimea were its 30 deep-water harbours.

Protected from the wind, some of them cut five miles deep into the rocky coastline. Thus Sevastopol became Russia&rsquos main naval base on the Black Sea, a role it was to play for many years.

During the Crimean war, the Seige of Sevastopol (September 1854-September 1855) was the defining moment of the conflict. It took French, British and Ottoman forces a year to capture the city.

However, the city endured its toughest ordeal during World War II. In 1941-42, Red Army soldiers and Black Sea Fleet sailors defended it from Nazi troops for 250 days and nights. In the end, they were forced to surrender the city, but even under German occupation, there was a strong resistance movement in Sevastopol.

From 1948 onwards, Sevastopol enjoyed the status of a special city within the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union. In 1954, then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed over Sevastopol, together with the rest of Crimea, to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic &ndash another part of the Soviet Union.

The change had little significant effect upon Sevastopol, which, as one of the Soviet Union&rsquos key military bases, continued to be run by the Soviet Defence Ministry in Moscow.

However, the situation changed dramatically in the early 1990s, when Ukraine became an independent state and Sevastopol, along with the rest of Crimea, became Ukrainian.

Under the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership signed by Moscow and Kiev in 1997, Russia recognized Sevastopol&rsquos Ukrainian status and the inviolability of Ukraine&rsquos borders, while Ukraine granted Russia the right to retain the Sevastopol naval base and to keep its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea until 2017.


So what does the Russian Black Sea Fleet consist of? Besides the fleet headquarters and command in Sevastopol, there are: the 68th Coastal Defence Brigade Navy Arsenal No 17 the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade the 247th Independent Submarine Division the 854th Coastal Missile Regiment a separate marine engineering battalion, a communications hub the 30th Surface Ship Division, consisting of the guided missile cruiser Moskva, guided missile hovercrafts Bora and Samum, a brigade of auxiliary ships, a brigade of assault landing ships, a brigade of missile boats a naval air assault squadron, a composite air regiment a radio electronic support brigade arsenals, depots, repair plants and training schools for junior officers.

A total of 25,000 servicemen, not including civilian staff, are employed at the fleet&rsquos facilities. When the families of these servicemen are taken into account, this figure grows to more than 100,000 people.

Under the May 31, 1997 agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the status and terms of the Russian Black Sea Fleet&rsquos presence on the territory of Ukraine, at any one time there can be 388 Russian vessels (including 14 diesel submarines) in Ukrainian territorial waters and on land and 161 aircraft on leased airfields at Gvardeiskoye (north of regional capital Simferopol) and Sevastopol.

These figures are comparable with the size of Turkey&rsquos naval force, though in fact the number of Russian vessels and aircraft in Crimea does not approach this figure.

The original agreement was signed for a period of 20 years. It was envisaged that it would be automatically extended for subsequent five-year periods unless one of the sides, in writing and a year in advance, notified the other of a decision to terminate the agreement.

A second agreement, signed in Kharkiv in 2010, extended the duration of the Russian Black Sea Fleet&rsquos presence in Sevastopol till 2042. Russia pays Ukraine $98 million a year for leasing the naval base in Crimea. Furthermore, under the Kharkiv agreement, Russia grants Ukraine a discount on gas.

Russia is forced to bear these costs because it has failed to build an alternative base for the Black Sea Fleet on its own territory. Russia&rsquos own Black Sea port at Novorossiysk is not deep enough and lacks the necessary infrastructure.

Regardless, the fleet has an important strategic task that it must continue to fulfil &ndash protecting the south of Russia and preventing a potential enemy's aircraft carriers from entering the Black Sea.

The crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine

As pro-Russian protesters became increasingly assertive in Crimea, groups of armed men whose uniforms lacked any clear identifying marks surrounded the airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol. Masked gunmen occupied the Crimean parliament building and raised a Russian flag, as pro-Russian lawmakers dismissed the sitting government and installed Sergey Aksyonov, the leader of the Russian Unity Party, as Crimea’s prime minister. Voice and data links between Crimea and Ukraine were severed, and Russian authorities acknowledged that they had moved troops into the region. Turchynov criticized the action as a provocation and a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, while Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin characterized it as an effort to protect Russian citizens and military assets in Crimea. Aksyonov declared that he, and not the government in Kyiv, was in command of Ukrainian police and military forces in Crimea.

On March 6 the Crimean parliament voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, with a public referendum on the matter scheduled for March 16, 2014. The move was hailed by Russia and broadly condemned in the West. Meanwhile, Yatsenyuk affirmed Kyiv’s position that Crimea was an integral part of Ukraine. On the day of the referendum, observers noted numerous irregularities in the voting process, including the presence of armed men at polling stations, and the result was an overwhelming 97 percent in favour of joining Russia. The interim government in Kyiv rejected the result, and the United States and the EU imposed asset freezes and travel bans on numerous Russian officials and members of the Crimean parliament. On March 18 Putin met with Aksyonov and other regional representatives and signed a treaty incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation. Western governments protested the move. Within hours of the treaty’s signing, a Ukrainian soldier was killed when masked gunmen stormed a Ukrainian military base outside Simferopol. Russian troops moved to occupy bases throughout the peninsula, including Ukrainian naval headquarters in Sevastopol, as Ukraine initiated the evacuation of some 25,000 military personnel and their families from Crimea. On March 21 after the ratification of the annexation treaty by the Russian parliament, Putin signed a law formally integrating Crimea into Russia.

As international attention remained focused on Crimea, Yatsenyuk negotiated with the IMF to craft a bailout package that would address Ukraine’s $35 billion in unmet financial obligations. He also met with EU officials in Brussels, and on March 21 Yatsenyuk signed a portion of the association pact that had been rejected by Yanukovych in November 2013. The IMF ultimately proposed an $18 billion loan package that was contingent on Ukraine’s adoption of a range of austerity measures that included devaluation of the hryvnya and curbs on state subsidies that reduced the price of natural gas to consumers.

Russia continued to solidify its hold on Crimea, and it abrogated the 2010 treaty that had extended its lease on the port of Sevastopol in exchange for a discount on natural gas. The price Russia charged Ukraine for natural gas skyrocketed some 80 percent in a matter of weeks. While Russia openly exerted economic pressure on the interim government in Kyiv, Russian officials publicly stated that they had no additional designs on Ukrainian territory. In early April, however, a NATO press briefing revealed the presence of an estimated 40,000 Russian troops, massed in a state of high readiness, just across Ukraine’s border. Subsequently, heavily armed pro-Russian gunmen stormed government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Luhansk, Horlivka, and Kramatorsk. In Kharkiv a group of ostensibly local gunmen mistakenly seized an opera house, believing it to be city hall. As was the case in Crimea, a number of these takeovers were executed by men with Russian equipment, in uniforms bearing no insignia, acting with military precision. In the city of Slov’yansk in the Donets Basin, a gun battle erupted as pro-Russian militiamen occupied buildings and established roadblocks.

Turchynov imposed a deadline on those occupying the buildings, offering them immunity from prosecution if they surrendered but threatening a military response if they did not. The deadline passed without incident, the occupiers consolidated their gains, and Turchynov called on the United Nations to dispatch peacekeeping forces to eastern Ukraine to restore order. Meanwhile, he signaled his support for one of the key demands of the pro-Russian camp—a popular referendum on the conversion of Ukraine into a federation, a change that would convey greater autonomy at the regional level. On April 15 the Ukrainian military successfully retook the airfield at Kramatorsk, but the following day a broader effort to reassert control in Slov’yansk went sharply awry when Ukrainian troops surrendered six armoured personnel carriers to pro-Russian militiamen. As emergency talks between Ukraine, the United States, the EU, and Russia began in Geneva, Ukrainian troops in Mariupol repelled an assault by pro-Russian gunmen that left several militiamen dead.

Although all parties at Geneva agreed to work to defuse the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia commenced military maneuvers on its side of the border, and pro-Russian militants expanded their zone of control, seizing additional government buildings and establishing armed checkpoints. In late April Volodymyr Rybak, a Horlivka city council representative and a member of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, was kidnapped and killed by a pro-Russian militia. Subsequently, dozens would be abducted and held by pro-Russian forces, including eight members of an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission, numerous Ukrainian and Western journalists, and several members of Ukrainian police and security services. The U.S. and the EU unveiled a fresh round of sanctions against Russia, and Kharkiv mayor Gennady Kernes, a member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions who had reversed his pro-Moscow course and declared his support for a united Ukraine, was seriously wounded by a sniper. On May 2 the Ukrainian government restarted its offensive against pro-Russian forces in Slov’yansk. Although two helicopters were lost to hostile fire, Turchynov reported that many separatists had been killed or arrested. That same day, violence erupted in Odessa, a city that had been relatively unscathed until that point, and dozens of pro-Russian demonstrators were killed when the building they occupied caught fire.

On May 9 Putin celebrated Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, with a trip to Crimea and a review of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Days before Putin’s visit, the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, a Kremlin advisory body, had released a cautionary report about Crimea that sharply contradicted the officially published results of the March 16 independence referendum. Actual voter turnout was estimated to have been between 30 and 50 percent, with just over half of those casting ballots choosing annexation by Russia. As self-declared separatist governments in Luhansk and Donetsk prepared to stage their own referenda on independence, Ukrainian security forces continued to contest territory with pro-Russian militias, and a particularly bloody clash in Mariupol left as many as 20 dead. Those referenda, held in separatist-controlled cities on May 11, were dismissed by Kyiv as “a farce” and were widely criticized throughout the West. Widespread irregularities were observed: masked gunmen directly supervised polls, voters casting multiple ballots were commonplace, and Ukrainian police reportedly seized 100,000 pre-completed “yes” ballots from armed separatists outside Slov’yansk. While stopping short of recognizing the results of the referenda, which overwhelmingly favoured independence, Putin said that he respected the will of the voters, even as the Kremlin called for negotiations. The EU responded by expanding its sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.

The Siege Of Sevastopol: Why The Crimean Campaign Means So Much To Moscow

1 Since its founding in 1783, the port city of Sevastopol has played a crucial role in Russian history. It is the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and a commercial seaport. For 11 months in 1854-55, the city was besieged by British, French, and other forces during the Crimean War. After a brave defense, the beleaguered Russians were forced to scuttle the entire fleet and evacuate the ruined city.

(Detail of Franz Roubaud's panoramic painting "The Siege of Sevastopol, October 1853-February 1856")

7 During the siege of Sevastopol, Soviet forces used all resources available. Black Sea Fleet sailors and marines were pressed into infantry duty. The more than 100,000 civilians in Sevastopol at the time of the siege were also mustered into service, performing duties such as building fortifications and moving supplies from the port to the defense perimeter.

(Red Army Marines manning the defensive lines around Sevastopol in 1942)

9 After the German defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943, the tide on the Soviet-German front began to shift. In late 1943, the Soviets prepared to retake Crimea by a combined assault across the Kerch Strait and down the Perekop Isthmus. The Soviets forced German prisoners of war to build walkways through the shallow Syvash Sea to enable Red Army forces to support the attack on the isthmus. By April 1944, the Germans had been pushed back into Sevastopol and the Red Army began its assault on the port.

(Soviet soldiers crossing the Syvash Sea into Crimea in late 1943)

11 The Germans did not have the time or the resources to rebuild the defenses of Sevastopol. However, the fighting among the ruins was brutal. Hitler's generals advised him to evacuate the city to avoid "another Stalingrad," but he insisted that it be held at all costs.

(Street fighting in Sevastopol in the spring of 1944)

12 The German forces began evacuating the city in early May 1944. Many of the transport ships were sunk by Soviet bombers. On May 10, bombers sunk the "Totila" and the "Teja" with a loss of some 10,000 lives. In all, the Axis forces lost nearly 60,000 men.

(Soviet forces recaptured Sevastopol on May 9, 1944.)

14 The last pockets of Axis resistance on Crimea were eliminated by May 12, 1944.

(Soviet Marines occupying a position near Kerch in 1944)

16 On May 18, 1944, just days after the final liberation of Crimea, Stalin ordered the Red Army to forcibly deport the more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars who inhabited the peninsula. The Soviet government alleged that the Crimean Tatars had collaborated with the Nazis and sent them to remote locations in Russia and Central Asia. It is estimated that more than half of the entire Crimean Tatar population died during the first year of the deportation. Crimean Tatars began returning to Crimea in the late 1980s and now make up about 20 percent of the population.

(A commemoration ceremony in Simferopol by Crimean Tatars to mark the 69th anniversary of their deportation in 2013)

17 In February 1945, the leaders of the three main Allied powers met at a former tsarist palace outside the Crimean town of Yalta to discuss the final stages of the war against Germany and Japan and the postwar order. The meeting resulted in such key decisions as the agreement to accept only the unconditional surrender of Germany and to divide the country and the city of Berlin into four occupation zones. The Allies agreed to German reparations, including the use of forced labor. The Allies agreed to hand over to the Soviets all Soviet citizens regardless of their wishes. Stalin agreed to join the United Nations and to allow free elections in Poland. He also agreed that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan within 90 days after Germany's defeat.

Watch the video: История Севастополя History of Sevastopol