Russian attacks on residential areas near Odessa leave at least 19 dead, Ukrainian officials say
Russian missile attacks on residential areas of a coastal town near the port city of Odessa killed at least 19 people on Friday, Ukrainian authorities reported a day after Russian forces withdrew from a strategic sea island Black.
Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, about 50 kilometers southwest of Odessa. According to Ukrainian reports, missiles hit a multi-storey building and a resort area.
“A terrorist country kills our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, it fights civilians,” said Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to the Ukrainian security services, 19 people died, including two children. He said 38 others, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalized with injuries. Most of the victims were in the building, Ukrainian emergency officials said.
A spokesman for the Odessa regional government, Serhiy Bratchuk, said on the Telegram messaging app that 30 other people were injured.
In eastern Ukraine, where Russia continues its main ground offensive, Ukrainian forces have clung to the town of Lysychansk, although officials have described it as under artillery attack fierce.
Leaving Snake Island
The airstrikes in Odessa followed the withdrawal of Russian forces from Snake Island on Thursday, a move that could potentially lessen the threat to nearby Odessa. The island lies along a busy shipping lane. Russia took control of it in the early days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as staging ground for an assault on Odessa.
The Kremlin described the removal from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture”. The Ukrainian army called for a barrage from its artillery and missiles forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats. The exact number of troops withdrawing has not been disclosed.
Russian shelling killed large numbers of civilians early in the war, including at a hospital and theater in the port city of Mariupol. Mass casualties seemed to become rarer as Moscow focused on capturing the entire Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
However, a missile strike Monday on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine, left at least 19 people dead and 62 injured, authorities said Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied that Russian forces had targeted the mall, saying his country was not hitting civilian facilities. He claimed the target in Kremenchuk was a nearby arms depot, echoing remarks by his military officials.
Russia has focused its main ground campaign in the east, where it is demanding that Kyiv cede full control of two provinces to pro-Russian separatist proxies.
Ukraine’s last stronghold in Lugansk province is the town of Lysychansk, across the Siverskyi Donets River, which is about to be surrounded by relentless Russian artillery assaults.
The Russians were shelling Lysychansk from different directions and approaching from several sides, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television.