The Paris Peace Agreement of 1856 that ended the Crimean War1 declared the waters of the Black Sea to be “neutral,” in other words “international” and open to all states on an equal basis. Surely Poseidon laughed at this pitiful attempt by humans to divide up that which had never belonged to them, and which could at any moment rise up and foil their plans.
Had not the ancient gods, just two years prior, made this very point? In November of 1854, a British flotilla was sailing through the waters of the Black Sea during the siege of Sevastopol, hoping to dock at a place called Balaclava.
Was it the British flotilla’s intent, as some later averred, to deliver to British forces besieging Sevastopol their pay? Or was it just seeking shelter from ill weather? Whatever the case may have been, their plans came undone. The ships not only were unable to enter the bay, but every last one – 34 in all – was destroyed on the cliffs at its entrance. Five hundred souls perished.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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