Russian missiles kill at least 21 in Ukraine’s Odesa region



POKROVSK, Ukraine — A Russian airstrike on residential areas killed at least 21 people early Friday near the Ukrainian port of Odesa, authorities reported, a day after the withdrawal of Moscow’s forces from an island in the Black Sea had seemed to ease the threat to the city.

Video of the attack before daybreak showed the charred ruins of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Odesa. The Ukrainian president’s office said warplanes fired three missiles that struck an apartment building and a campsite.

Ukrainian authorities interpreted the attack as payback for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island a day earlier, though Moscow portrayed their departure as a “goodwill gesture” to help unblock exports of grain.

Russian forces took control of the island in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port and the headquarters of its navy.

“The occupiers cannot win on the battlefield, so they resort to vile killing of civilians,” said Ivan Bakanov, head of Ukraine’s security service, the SBU. “After the enemy was dislodged from Snake Island, he decided to respond with the cynical shelling of civilian targets.”

Ukraine’s military reported late Friday on social media that two Russian Su-30 warplanes bombed Snake Island with phosphorus bombs. Black-and-white aerial video showed two blasts hitting the island. The warplanes reportedly struck from the east, from Belbek, on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. The Russian military did not immediately comment.

Large numbers of civilians were killed in Russian bombardments earlier in the war, including at a hospital, a theater used as a shelter, and a train station. Until this week, mass casualties involving residents appeared to become less frequent as Moscow concentrated on capturing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Russian missiles struck the Kyiv region last weekend after weeks of relative calm around the capital and an airstrike Monday on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk killed at least 19 people.

A U.S. defense official said Friday in Washington that Russian forces appeared to use an anti-ship missile in the mall attack, a type of weapon that the official said is not accurate against land targets. Russia’s defense ministry spokesman claimed earlier this week that warplanes fired precision-guided missiles at a depot that contained Western weapons and ammunition, which detonated and set the mall on fire. Ukrainian authorities said that in addition to the direct hit on the mall, a factory was struck, but denied it housed weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy noted that as in Monday’s shopping mall attack in Kremenchuk, Russian forces on Friday appeared to use anti-ship missiles to hit Serhiivka.



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