Kyiv announces at least 20 dead in strike in Odessa

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At least 21 people were killed and 38 injured in a Russian missile attack on a building and a recreation center in a resort town southwest of Odessa, local authorities said on Friday, the highest toll in a single attack on the region since the beginning of the war.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces launched the missiles from three planes in a pre-dawn raid on Serhiivka, about 30 miles from the port city of Odessa. One child was killed, while six others were injured, said Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the regional administration.

Photos and videos taken after the attack show rescuers searching the remains of the destroyed nine-storey building, which was stripped down to its concrete structure with debris, glass and piled up personal belongings on its balconies.

It comes a day after Russian troops withdrew from Snake Island, a hotly contested piece of land in the Black Sea that was captured by Russian forces early in the war and used as a base for attacks in the south of the country. The Kremlin said the withdrawal was a “goodwill gesture”, a term it has used for previous battlefield retreats.

The recapture of the island was a strategic victory for Ukrainian forces, raising hopes that it would reduce the number of assaults on nearby towns. However, officials called Friday’s attack on Serhiivka revenge for the loss of the island.

“Terror is a common tactic in Russia,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “First they cover their criminal actions with an ‘act of goodwill’ and then launch rocket attacks on our peaceful towns.”

The strike was the latest in a series of deadly bombings by Russian forces on civilian infrastructure, including attacks on a theater and a hospital in Mariupol as well as an attack on Kramatorsk train station that left 59 people dead.

Russian ground forces have been unable to reach Odessa, and the immediate region has so far been spared the brutal assaults suffered by the towns in the east of the country where Moscow is now concentrating its offensive.

Zelensky was quick to condemn the attack, accusing Russia of using unnecessarily powerful missiles in the strike.

“These missiles, Kh-22, were designed to destroy aircraft carriers and other large warships, and the Russian military used them against an ordinary nine-story building with ordinary civilians,” he said. -he declares.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was not attacking civilian areas in Ukraine, and said its airstrikes were focused on buildings used to store munitions and train troops. There is, however, no evidence that the buildings targeted at Serhiivka were used by the army.

Ukraine disperses its arsenal to protect its weapons from Russian strikes

A senior US defense official said on Friday that Russia has a history of using powerful weapons in a “reckless” way. The official said Russian forces used an anti-ship missile in an attack on a shopping center in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, on Monday that killed at least 18 people.

On Friday, the United States detailed the elements of the $820 million in security and weapons assistance for Ukraine that President Biden had announced a day earlier at the close of an EU summit. NATO in Madrid. The final installment will focus on the equipment needed to counter the crushing artillery offensive in the east, where Russia is slowly gaining ground. It will include 150,000 artillery shells for use in Western-designed howitzers that were sent to Ukraine in earlier shipments.

The latest aid will also include two advanced surface-to-air missile systems and ammunition and rocket launchers designed to help the Ukrainians launch longer-range attacks.

The majority of fresh stock will be purchased from defense contractors, rather than existing US military supply, the Pentagon said, meaning it could take significantly longer to reach the battlefield. A senior defense official said purchases could take “weeks” or “months” compared to drawing from existing stockpiles, which can be done in days.

US-supplied HIMARS changes the reckoning on Ukraine’s frontlines

Survivors of the Serhiivka attack were pictured Friday sifting through the remains of their shattered homes as rescue workers retrieved the dead and injured and war crimes prosecutors took notes.

“There are some people [there]. They’re carrying bodies,” one man said in a video posted to Telegram that was filmed from a nearby building and verified by The Washington Post. “And a lot of deaths. Everything was destroyed,” he said. Video showed shards of glass strewn across the floor of his apartment after the explosion.

A quarter of a mile from the recreation facilities hit in the attack, footage showed a pile of debris and mangled railings strewn across the ground among the ruins of the building’s bright pink facade. A mountain of debris covered what was once a large swimming pool.

Moldovan Health Minister Ala Nemerenco said the Moldovan Health Ministry had a rehabilitation center for children who were hit in the attack, killing one and injuring five, all of whom lived in the building. Children were not staying at the center at the time, which was being prepared to reopen following the pandemic, she said.

“These peaceful people have brightened the days of Moldovan children. … From the bottom of our hearts, we wish them a full recovery. To the family of the deceased colleague, we express our deepest condolences,” Nemerenco said in a statement posted on Facebook. It is unclear whether the rehab center was part of the recreation facility, and The Washington Post was unable to verify Nemerenco’s description of the facility.

Intense fighting in the eastern region of Ukraine continued on Friday as Russian forces attempted to encircle the city of Lysychansk, one of the last towns between full Russian control of the eastern Luhansk region.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Friday the Russians seized parts of an oil refinery in the city overnight, while the Russian Defense Ministry said its troops seized the entire installation. About 15,000 civilians remain in Lysychansk.

In a courtroom in suburban Moscow on Friday, a Russian prosecutor accused WNBA star Brittney Griner of carrying a “significant quantity” of cannabis oil, according to Russian media on her trial. , where she faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

Griner, seated in a cage in the courtroom with a bottle of water and a bag of cookies, said she understood the charges. She did not enter a plea. The court adjourned until July 7 to hear further testimony.

US Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood and other US diplomats attended Friday’s hearing. “We care deeply about this case and Ms. Griner’s well-being, as do so many Americans, and as we do with all American citizen prisoners overseas. We were able to speak to Ms. Griner in the courtroom today. She is doing as well as expected in these difficult circumstances,” Rood said in an emailed statement, adding, “The Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner.

Andrew Jeong in Seoul, Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina in Riga, and Amar Nadhir, Karina Tsui and Meg Kelly in Washington contributed to this report.

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