Russia hurled another missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Odesa on Sunday, July 23, 2023.
According to officials, at least one person was killed and 22 others wounded in the attack.
Russia’s Defense Ministry disclosed that its forces attacked sites in Odesa “where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared.”
Ukraine’s air force disclosed on the Telegram that Russia launched 19 missiles in the Odesa region, including five high-precision winged Onyx missiles and four sea-to-shore Kalibr cruise missiles. It added that Ukrainian air defenses shot down nine.
It was reported by Regional Governor, Oleh Kiper, that four children were among those wounded in the strikes. 25 landmarks across the city were severely damaged in the blasts, including the historic Transfiguration Cathedral, also known as Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral.
Kiper said that six residential buildings were destroyed by the strikes.
Some people became trapped in their apartments following the attack, which left rubble strewn in the street and partly blocking the road.
Local officials said that the icon of the patroness of the city was retrieved from under the rubble.
The cathedral belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been accused of links to Russia.
The church has insisted that it is loyal to Ukraine, has denounced the Russian invasion from the start and has even declared its independence from Moscow.
However, Ukrainian security agencies have claimed that some in the Ukrainian church have maintained close ties with Moscow.
They have raided numerous holy sites of the church and later posted photos of rubles, Russian passports and leaflets with messages from the Moscow patriarch as proof that some church officials have been loyal to Russia.
Odesa’s historic center was labelled as an endangered World Heritage Site by UNESCO earlier this year despite Russian opposition.
In a series of tweets, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence MoD described the Russian forces as “terrorists” and, referencing the damage to the cathedral, wrote, “Forgive them, Lord, because we will not.”
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy also noted in a tweet that there would be “a retaliation to Russian terrorists” following the overnight missile strikes on Odesa.
Moreover, Kharkiv Regional Governor, Oleh Syniehubov reported on Sunday morning that two people were killed in Russian strikes on the northeastern province on Saturday, when Russia attacked populated areas of the Kharkiv, Chuhuiv, Kupiansk and Izium districts.
Additionallly Donetsk regional Governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, announced that four residents of the eastern region were killed and 11 wounded in attacks the previous day.
Russia Denies Striking Cathedral
In a statement, Russia’s Defense Ministry denied that its missiles hit the Transfiguration Cathedral and blamed Ukraine for the damage, claiming that the destruction of the cathedral was likely due to “the fall of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft guided missile.”
The ministry stated that Ukraine’s statement that a high-precision weapon damaged the cathedral “does not correspond to reality.”
It said the damage was caused by “incompetent actions of the operators of air defence systems, which the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] deliberately places in residential areas, including Odesa.”
Russia said that it targeted facilities “at a safe distance from the Transfiguration Cathedral.”
Another statement said Russian strikes are planned to exclude “civilian facilities, as well as cultural and historical heritage sites.”
Russia has been launching persistent attacks on Odesa, a key hub for exporting grain, since Moscow suspended its participation in the Black Sea grain deal on Monday, July 17, 2023.
Russian attacks this week have destroyed significant parts of export facilities in Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry, disclosed.
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