Russia flattened part of an apartment building on Friday in missile strikes near Ukraine’s Odessa port while residents slept, officials said, killing at least 21 people after Russian troops attacked the Black Sea outpost of Snake Island. A few hours after leaving.
Residents of the resort village of Serhivka helped rescue workers from the rubble of a nine-story apartment block, part of which was destroyed in an early morning strike.
Walls and windows of a neighboring 14-storey apartment block were damaged by the blast. Nearby holiday camps were also affected.
“We came here to the site, assessed the situation with emergency workers and local people, and together helped those who survived. And those who died unfortunately. We helped carry them away,” said Alexander Abramov , who live nearby and fled the scene when he heard the explosion.
Odessa regional administration spokesman Serhi Brachuk said 21 people had been confirmed dead, including a 12-year-old boy. Among the dead was an employee of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center set up at the resort by Ukraine’s neighboring Moldova.
The regional governor said the missiles were fired from the Black Sea side.
The Kremlin denied targeting civilians.
“I would like to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian armed forces do not act with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
long range attack
In his nightly video address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the attack on the apartment and the seaside site as “conscious, deliberate targeting of Russian terror and not a missile strike by error or chance.”
The attack on Serhivka occurred when Russia pulled its troops from the strategically important Snake Island, about 140 km (85 mi) southeast of Odessa, which it had seized on the first day of the war.
Ukraine’s General Staff chief Valery Zaluzhny accused Russia of failing to comply with its claim that it had left Snake Island as a “gesture of goodwill”. On his Telegram channel, Zaluzny said two Russian warplanes had taken off from a base in Crimea and bombed the island on Friday evening.
He posted a video of what he said was an attack. Reuters had no way of confirming the video or the Russian action. There was no immediate Russian comment.
Earlier this week Russia attacked a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine, killing at least 19 people.
Kyiv says Moscow has intensified its long-range missile attacks, and has targeted civilian targets far from the border. Russia says it is targeting military bases.
Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Russia calls the invasion a “special operation” to root out the Nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say it is a war of unprovoked aggression.
In southern Ukraine, Russian forces have captured Europe’s largest Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant since March. On Friday, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said it had reestablished its connection to surveillance systems there that had been disconnected. Communications have been snapped twice since March and the UN’s nuclear watchdog wants to inspect the plant.
Russia’s military used Snake Island to control the northwestern Black Sea and blockade Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters.
Moscow denies that it is to blame for the food crisis, which it says has hurt its own exports because of Western sanctions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Indonesia’s president on Thursday and spoke by phone to India’s prime minister on Friday, promising both major food importers that Russia would remain a major supplier of grain.
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from areas that Russian forces have seized since their invasion.
It said that a Russian-flagged cargo ship, the Zhibek Zoli, had left the Russian-occupied port of Burdiansk with a cargo of grain from Ukraine. Kyiv requested that Turkey intercept the vessel, according to a Ukrainian official and document seen by Reuters.
A Russian-based official said Thursday that the first cargo ship had left the port of Burdiansk after several months of stagnation, but did not name Zhibek Zoli.
The Kremlin has previously denied stealing the grain and did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
no gas, electricity, water
Russia’s campaign of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities coincides with the success of its forces on the battlefield in the east, aimed at forcing Ukraine to cede Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
Moscow has been on the verge of capturing Luhansk since capturing the city of Svyarodonetsk last week after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
Ukraine’s last stronghold in Luhansk is the city of Lisichansk across the Siversky Donets River, nestled under a Russian artillery barrage.
In Russian-occupied Svierodonetsk, residents emerged from basements through the rubble of their city.
“Almost all the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed. We have been living without gas, electricity and water since May,” 65-year-old Sergei Olenik told Reuters.
More weapons were needed in both eastern and southern Ukraine, Zelensky said, as the Pentagon announced that the United States would use two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional ones, as part of its latest weapons package. Sending counter-artillery radar and ammunition.
“We’ve worked very hard to supply these,” Zelensky said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)