A new Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Odessa, in the Black Sea, left at least two dead and 22 wounded, as part of an offensive that has damaged crucial port infrastructure in southern Ukraine in the past week. The Transfiguration Cathedralone of the most important and largest Orthodox cathedrals in Odessa, was severely damaged.
“The destruction is enormous, half of the cathedral no longer has a roofsaid Archdeacon Andrii Palchuk, as temple staff removed documents and valuables from the building. Half of the cathedral was flooded with water used by firefighters to extinguish the flames after the attack.
Palchuk said the damage was due to direct hit of a Russian missile that penetrated the building to the basement. Two people who were inside at the time were injured. “But with God’s help, we will restore it,” she said, breaking down in tears.
UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, this year designated the historic center of Odessa as World Heritage threatened, despite Russian objections.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Russian forces had struck places in Odessa “where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared.”
In a statement, the ministry said long-range precision weapons fired from the air and sea had been used, and that “foreign mercenaries” were present at the targets.
“The Army deliberately excludes civilian facilities as well as buildings considered cultural or historical heritage,” insisted the Russian version. Instead, the Russian Defense Ministry blames the partial destruction of the cathedral on “an anti-aircraft guided missile of the Armed Forces of Ukraine due to the illiterate actions of its air defense officers, who always deliberately stand in the middle of residential areas.”
Ukrainian President, Volodimir Zelensky, promised that there will be reprisals after the new Russian night attack with 19 missiles.
“Missiles against peaceful cities, against residential buildings, a cathedral… There can be no excuse for Russian wickedness. As always, this evil will lose. AND there will definitely be reprisals for Russian terrorists for Odessa. They will feel these reprisals”, he wrote in a message on Telegram.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba called on the international community to condemn this new attack on this Black Sea port city.
“The largest attack ever perpetrated against a major port vital to world food security is an attack against the entire international community. I urge all states and organizations to condemn this barbaric war crime,” she wrote on Twitter. He added that “Russian missile strikes kill people, ruin iconic sites in UNESCO-protected Odessa”.
The Ukrainian Air Force had specified that during the attack, Russian forces launched at least five types of missiles: Kalibr, Oniks, Kh-22, Iskander-K and Iskander-M.
Russia has persistently punished Odessa, a crucial grain export hub, after Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal on Monday amid Kiev’s efforts to win back its occupied territories.
Svitlana Molcharova, 85, was rescued by the emergency services. But after receiving first aid she refused to leave her destroyed apartment. “I’ll stay here,” she told the emergency worker she told him to leave.
Other Russian attacks this week devastated significant parts of export facilities in Odessa and nearby Chornomorsk and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture.
The campaign came days after President Vladimir Putin withdrew his country from the Greater Black Sea Initiative, a war deal that allowed Ukraine’s exports to reach many countries threatened by famine.
Putin has vowed to retaliate against Kiev for an attack Monday on the crucial Kerch Bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014.
(With information from AP, EFE, AFP)
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