Number of airstrikes ‘double’ as Putin denies responsibility for deaths
AT least 18 people were killed and 31 injured when a Russian airstrike hit a residential building and a recreation centre in the Odesa region, Ukrainian officials said yesterday.
Two children were among the dead, they added.
Russia more than doubled the rate of its missile strikes in the last two weeks, according to a Ukrainian general, who said many of the Russian munitions date back to the Soviet era and are inaccurate, resulting in high civilian casualties.
Ukrainian forces, while outgunned, this week retook the strategically important Snake Island.
But Russia continued to make minimal advances around the eastern city of Lysychansk and had “partial success” trying to seize the city’s oil refinery, according to Ukraine.
Footage from Russian state media appeared to show some fighters inside the plant, one of the largest in Ukraine.
Russian aircraft fired three projectiles overnight at the Belgorod-Dniester district of Odesa, local officials said.
Fourteen people died after a residential building was hit, while three more were killed when a recreation centre was struck.
Officials later said the number of fatalities had increased to 18.
“Terror is a common tactic of Russia,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an 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 cities,” he said.
Tymoshenko was apparently referring to Russia’s withdrawal of its forces this week from Snake Island, which the Kremlin described as a “goodwill gesture”.
Officials in the nearby port city of Odesa, however, said protracted missile and artillery strikes by Ukrainian forces had driven them out.
Ukrainian officials also said this week that a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping centre in the city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 19 people.
Russian president Vladimir Putin denied responsibility, while Russia’s defence ministry previously said that the strikes had targeted a weapons warehouse, with the munitions detonating and causing a fire in a nearby “non-functioning shopping centre”.
On Wednesday, 10 Russian projectiles struck civilian infrastructure in Mykolaiv, a southern city near the Black Sea, leaving at least six people dead, according to Ukrainian officials.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, in Lysychansk, Russian troops are shelling the city from several directions while maintaining a heavy presence in the area, according to the head of the Luhansk region’s military administration, Serhiy Haidai.
In the Kherson region, in an attempt to regain control, Russian forces unleashed unsuccessful air attacks near the southern region, according to Operational Command South.
Ukrainian fighters in recent weeks have been steadily regaining control of the region, in a sign that the Russian military may be overextended on a front line that stretches almost 500km.
Meanwhile, in the Black Sea, Russian forces say they have withdrawn from Ukraine’s Snake Island, a highly contested outcrop in the Black Sea that they captured shortly after the start of the war – presenting a small but strategic win for Ukraine.
On the diplomatic front, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that a new iron curtain was descending between Moscow and the West.
Mr Lavrov, speaking to reporters after talks with his counterpart in Belarus, said the Kremlin would no longer trust the United States and European Union, though he did not rule out future discussions with Washington and its
Russia will also seek to cut all dependence on the West in critically important industries, Mr Lavrov said.
“It’s practically already coming into place. Let them just behave carefully,” he said.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its fifth month, has significantly deteriorated Moscow’s relations with the US and other Western powers.
It has also altered Europe’s geopolitical map by pushing Sweden and Finland – countries neighbouring Russia that were militarily non-aligned before the invasion – to apply to join the Nato military alliance.
US president Joe Biden and leaders of some other Western nations have said Russia should be expelled from the G20, an informal group of large economies.
(© Washington Post)
© Washington Post