Latest Russian strike on Odesa, Ukraine leaves 1 dead, many injured and cathedral badly damaged

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ODESA, Ukraine — Russia struck the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odesa again on Sunday, local officials said, continuing a spate of attacks that damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine last week. At least one person was killed and 22 others wounded in the attack in the early hours.

Regional Governor Oleh Kiper said four children were among those injured in the explosions, which caused extensive damage to the historic Transfiguration Cathedral, a well-known Orthodox cathedral in the city.

Russia has been launching repeated attacks on Odesa, a major hub for grain exports, as Moscow suspended a special grain deal on Monday amid Kyiv’s eroding efforts to retake its occupied territories.

Kiper noted that six residential buildings, including apartment buildings, were destroyed by the strikes.

In one such case in the center of Odesa, some people were trapped in their apartments due to the damage caused by the attack, which left debris scattered on the street and partially blocking the road, and damage to power lines.

Svitlana Molcharova, 85, was rescued by emergency service personnel. But after receiving first aid, she refused to leave her devastated apartment.

“I’ll stay here,” she told the emergency service worker who advised her to leave.

“I woke up when the roof started to fall on me. I ran into the corridor,” said Ivan Kovalenko, 19, another resident of the building. He came to Odesa after fleeing the city of Mykolaiv in search of a safer place to live after his house was destroyed.

“That’s how I lost my home in Mykolaiv, and here, I lost my rented apartment. ”

In his home, the roof partially collapsed, the balcony came off the side of the building, and all the windows were blown out.

The Cathedral of the Transfiguration, one of the most important and largest Orthodox Cathedrals in Odesa, was severely damaged.

“The destruction is terrible, half of the cathedral is now without a roof,” said Archdeacon Andrii Palchuk, while the cathedral workers took documents and valuables out of the solid building, and the floor was full of water used by firefighters to extinguish the fire.

Palchuk said the damage was caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile that penetrated the building down to the ground floor and caused extensive damage. Two people who were inside at the time of the strike were injured.

“But with God’s help, we will bring him back,” he said, wiping away tears.

Odesa’s historic center was declared an endangered World Heritage Site by the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, earlier this year, despite opposition from Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Russian forces attacked sites in Odesa, “where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared.”

The ministry said in a statement that the strikes were carried out with long-range precision weapons based on sea and air, and that there are “foreign mercenaries” at the targeted sites.

In a later statement, the ministry denied that its strikes had hit the Transfiguration Cathedral, claiming that the cathedral was likely destroyed as a result of “the fall of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft guided missile”.

Russian attacks earlier this week knocked out large parts of export facilities in Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture.

The attacks come days after President Vladimir Putin pulled Russia out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime deal that allowed Ukrainian exports to reach many countries at risk of starvation.

Putin vowed revenge against Kyiv for Monday’s attack on the vital Kerch Bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally imposed in 2014.

In other developments:

– Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko are meeting Sunday in St. Petersburg, two days after Moscow warned Poland that any attack against its neighbor and Belarus would be considered an attack on Russia. Putin announced near the beginning of the meeting that talks would be held on Monday as well, and he announced that the opposition to Kyiv had failed.

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– Donetsk regional Gov Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Sunday that four residents of the eastern part of the region were killed on Saturday, with 11 others injured.


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