Russian attack destroys Transfiguration Cathedral, building under UNESCO protection Nina Liashonok/Portal 07/23/2023
At least two people were killed and a cathedral destroyed in Russian attacks early Sunday (23rd). Port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian authorities, Russia has launched 19 missiles by land, sea and air against the region, nine of which were shot down.
Ukraine promises “retaliation” for attack. After Ukraine’s Interior Ministry reported one death, it raised the death toll to two. There were also 22 injured, including four minors between the ages of 11 and 17.
“Missiles against peaceful cities, against houses, against a cathedral,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “There will be retaliation against Russian terrorists for the events in Odessa,” he promises.
“The Transfiguration Cathedral in the historic center of Odessa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was destroyed. A war crime that will never be forgotten or forgiven,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter.
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For its part, Moscow declared that it had achieved all the goals set in Odessa. The Russian army said it had attacked “facilities preparing terrorist attacks against the Russian Federation with unmanned boats” during the night. These facilities, he said, housed foreign mercenaries.
Ukraine declares attack a “war crime that will never be forgotten” Yan Dobronosov 07/23/2023
However, unintercepted Russian missiles caused “damage to port infrastructure and at least six residential areas, including apartment blocks,” the Ukrainian army said.
Odessa, located on the Black Sea coast, is a strategic point for maritime transport in the region. According to Kiev, the city already experienced a “hellish night” on Thursday (20), during which Moscow was accused of having deliberately attacked the port’s infrastructure in order to prevent a possible resumption of Ukrainian grain deliveries.
Russia a week ago withdrew from the agreement allowing the export of such crops for a year, on the grounds that its demand to lift export restrictions on food and fertilizers had not been met. Moscow assured that after that there would be no more “safety guarantees” in the Black Sea.
The attack in Odessa came hours before a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg. “Let’s talk about security in our region,” Putin told his guest in a televised address.
The meeting, which will eventually last two days, is the first between the two leaders since Belarus brokered an end to the Wagner Group mercenary mutiny in Russia four weeks ago.
The attack also injured 22, including four minors Yan Dobronosov/Portal 07/23/2023
At the beginning of the meeting in the Konstantinovsky Palace, the Russian President said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched in early June to regain the Moscowheld areas in the south and east had “failed”.
Lukashenko, in turn, referred to the Wagner group around Yevgeny Prigozin, who was once close to Putin. The Belarusian president said the mercenaries were “in a bad mood” and would like to go to Poland, although he is holding them in central Belarus.
“They ask to go west and ask my permission […] “Making a trip to Warsaw, to Rzeszów” on Polish territory, Lukashenko said to Putin, who replied with a smile. “But of course I’ll keep them in the center of Belarus, as we agreed,” added the Belarusian leader. “We control what happens,” he insisted.
The two leaders then greeted a crowd together in Kronstadt, an island city across from St. Petersburg, and took photos with some of those present in Cathedral Square.
The day before, Ukraine had blown up an ammunition depot in Crimea with a drone attack, forcing the evacuation of the affected population and the suspension of rail traffic on this peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
The death of Russian journalist Rostislav Zhuravlev of the Ria Novosti state agency in a Ukrainian bombing angered the Kremlin, which denounced “a heinous crime” and promised those responsible for the attack “accountability”.
A Ukrainian army source said the attack targeted “military installations”.