Representational image of Odessa Photograph:( AFP )
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said 21 people had been confirmed killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Among the fatalities was an employee of the Children`s Rehabilitation Center set up by Ukraine`s neighbour Moldova in the resort.The regional governor said the missiles had been fired from the direction of the Black Sea.
A day after Russian troops abandoned positions on a strategically important island in a major setback to the Kremlin's invasion, Ukrainian authorities reported that 21 people were killed and dozens injured early on Friday when Russian missiles struck an apartment building and a resort close to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa.
According to Ukraine's Security Service, 38 other people were hospitalised with injuries, including six children and a pregnant lady. According to Ukrainian emergency officials, the apartment building included the majority of the victims.
With its combat forces concentrated in the industrial Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, Russia has increased the number of missile strikes across the nation by more than twofold over the previous two weeks, more than half of which have been launched by ineffective missiles from the Soviet period.
"We came here to the site, assessed the situation together with emergency workers and locals, and together helped those who survived. And those who unfortunately died. We helped to carry them away," said Oleksandr Abramov, who lives nearby and had rushed to the scene when he heard the blast.
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The Odesa regional administration's spokesman, Serhiy Bratchuk, reported that 21 persons had been confirmed dead, including a 12-year-old boy. An employee of the Children's Rehabilitation Center that Moldova, Ukraine's neighbour, established in the resort, perished.
The missiles, according to the regional governor, were launched toward the Black Sea.Targeting civilians was rejected by the Kremlin.
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"I would like to remind you of the president`s words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
LONG-RANGE ATTACKS INTENSIFY
In his evening video message on Friday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, denounced the attack on the homes and beachside setting as "knowing, purposely targeted Russian terror and not some form of mistake or a chance missile strike."
Soon after Russia's troops left Snake Island, an important strategic outcrop located about 140 km (85 miles) southeast of Odesa that it had taken on the first day of the battle, they attacked Serhiivka.
Ukraine's chief of military staff, Valeriy Zaluzhny, accused Russia of breaching its pledge by remaining on Snake Island as a "gesture of good will." On his Telegram channel, Zaluzhny asserted that two Russian planes had taken out from a base in Crimea on Friday and hit targets on the island.
He published a video of the alleged attack. Reuters was unable to independently verify the footage or the Russian action. No immediate Russian response was given.
At least 19 people were killed earlier this week when Russia attacked a busy shopping centre in central Ukraine.
Moscow, according to Kyiv, has increased the number of long-range missile attacks that target civilian areas far from the combat lines. It claims to have been targeting at military installations.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, thousands of civilians have died. The invasion is described by Russia as a "special operation" to expel nationalists. According to Ukraine and its friends in the West, it is an unprovoked act of aggression.
The largest nuclear power facility in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, has been under Russian control since March in southern Ukraine. The operator of Ukraine's nuclear power plant announced on Friday that it has restored communication with the country's cut-off surveillance systems. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog wants to investigate the plant because communications have twice been disrupted since March.
Snake Island had been used by Russian forces to dominate the western Black Sea and establish a blockade on Ukraine, one of the greatest exporters of grains in the world.
Moscow disputes that the current food crisis is its fault, blaming it instead on Western sanctions that are harming its own exports.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, assured both major food importers that Russia will continue to be a significant grain provider when he met with the president of Indonesia on Thursday and spoke by phone with the prime minister of India on Friday.
Russia has been accused by Ukraine of stealing grain from the areas that its forces have occupied since their invasion.
The Zhibek Zholy, a cargo ship flying the Russian flag, was said to have sailed from the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk with a load of Ukrainian grain. According to a Ukrainian official and a document seen by Reuters, Kiev asked Turkey to hold the ship.
On Thursday, a Russian-installed official announced that the first cargo ship had left Berdyansk harbour after a standstill of several months, albeit he omitted to mention the Zhibek Zholy.
In the past, the Kremlin has denied grain theft, and on Friday, it chose not to respond.
NO GAS, ELECTRICITY, WATER
Russia`s stepped up campaign of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities coincides with its forces grinding out success on the battlefield in the east, with the aim of forcing Ukraine to cede Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
Moscow has been on the verge of capturing Luhansk since taking the city of Sievierodonetsk last week after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
Ukraine`s last bastion in Luhansk is the city of Lysychansk across the Siverskyi Donets river, which is close to being encircled under Russian artillery barrages.
In Russian-occupied Sievierodonetsk, residents emerged from basements to sift through the rubble of their city.
"Almost all the city infrastructure is destroyed. We are living without gas, electricity, and water since May," Sergei Oleinik, 65, told Reuters.
More weapons were needed in both eastern and southern Ukraine, said Zelenskiy, as the Pentagon announced the United States was sending two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and ammunition as part of its latest arms package.
"We have worked very hard to have these supplied," Zelenskiy said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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