At Least 19 Killed in Russian Missile Attack on Ukraine's Odesa

A Russian missile attack on a residential building in Odesa injures at least 30, a Ukrainian spokesperson for a regional government says

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Rescue workers work at the scene of a Russian missile strike at a location given as Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa region, Ukraine, in this handout image released on Friday.
Rescue workers work at the scene of a Russian missile strike at a location given as Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa region, Ukraine, in this handout image released on Friday.Credit: State Emergency Services of Ukraine /Reuters

Russian missile attacks on residential buildings near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa early Friday killed at least 19 people, including two children, authorities reported, a day after Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island.

Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Odesa. The Ukrainian president's office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and two campsites.

Ukraine’s Security Service said 19 people died, including two children. It said another 38, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalized with injuries. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said.

Ukrainian news reports said the target of the missile attack was a multi-story apartment building and a recreational area.

The assault comes after Russian forces pulled out from Snake Island on Thursday, potentially easing the threat to Odesa, home to Ukraine’s biggest port. But they kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.

The Kremlin portrayed the pullout from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture.” But Ukraine’s military claimed it forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats following a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes. The exact number of troops was not disclosed.
Snake Island sits along a busy shipping lane. Russia took control of it in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa.

The island took on significance early in the war as a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion. Ukrainian troops there reportedly received a demand from a Russian warship to surrender or be bombed. The answer supposedly came back, “Go (expletive) yourself.”

Zelenskyy said that although the Russian pullout did not guarantee the Black Sea region’s safety, it would “significantly limit” their activities in the area.

“Step by step, we will push (Russia) out of our sea, our land, our sky,” he said in his nightly address.

In eastern Ukraine, Russian forces kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the country's Donbas region. Moscow-backed separatists have controlled much of the region for eight years.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said the Russians were trying to encircle the city of Lysychansk and were fighting for control over an oil refinery near the city’s edge.

“The shelling of the city is very intensive,” Haidai told The Associated Press. “The occupiers are destroying one house after another with heavy artillery and other weapons. Residents of Lysychansk are hiding in basements almost round the clock.”

The offensive has failed so far to cut Ukrainian supply lines, although the main highway leading west was not being used because of constant Russian shelling, the governor said. “The evacuation is impossible,” he added.

But Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Friday that Russian and Luhansk separatist forces had taken control of the refinery as well as a mine and a gelatin factory in Lysychansk “over the last three days.”

Ukraine’s presidential office said a series of Russian strikes in the past 24 hours also killed civilians in eastern Ukraine – four in the northeastern Kharkiv region and another four in Donetsk province.

Russian bombardments killed large numbers of civilians earlier in the war, including at a hospital and a theater in the port city of Mariupol. Mass casualties had appeared to become more infrequent as Moscow concentrated on capturing the Donbas region.

However, a missile strike Monday on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine, killed at least 19 people and injured another 62, authorities said Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied that Russian forces targeted the shopping mall, saying that his country doesn’t hit civilian facilities. He claimed the target in Kremenchuk was a nearby weapons depot, echoing the remarks of his military officials.

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