Strikes kill 21 people in Odessa, Ukraine

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Missile fire hit a residential building and a recreation center on Friday morning, killing 21 people and injuring dozens in Ukraine’s Odessa region, in attacks quickly condemned by Germany.

Two children were among the dead and six others were injured, Ukrainian officials said, a day after Russia abandoned its positions on a strategic island in a major setback to the Kremlin invasion.

The missiles hit the two buildings in the town of Sergiyvka about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Black Sea port of Odessa, which has become a strategic flashpoint in the war that has now dragged on for more than four months.

“The death toll in the Odessa explosion has risen to 21,” Sergiy Bratchuk, deputy head of the Odessa district, told Ukrainian television. A 12-year-old boy was among the dead, he added.

The country’s emergency services chief, Sergiy Kruk, had previously put the death toll at 19. Thirty-eight people were injured, including six children, he added on Facebook.

The strikes were launched by planes arriving from the Black Sea, Odessa military administration spokesman Sergiy Bratchuk said.

“The worst-case scenario unfolded and two strategic aircraft arrived in the Odessa region,” he said in a television interview, adding that they fired “very heavy and very powerful” missiles.

Russia had no immediate comment on the strikes.

‘Inhuman’

Germany has said it is time for the Russian people to face the truth about the “cruel” actions of their government.

“The cruel way in which the Russian aggressor takes the death of civilians head on and talks again about collateral damage is inhumane and cynical,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

The strikes follow global outrage earlier this week when a Russian strike destroyed a shopping center in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, killing at least 18 civilians. President Vladimir Putin has denied that Moscow forces were responsible.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a ‘new’ chapter in ‘history’ with the European Union on Friday, after Brussels recently granted Ukraine ‘candidate status’ in Kyiv’s push to join the bloc of 27 members, although membership is probably years away.

“We are not close. Now we are together,” he told Ukraine’s parliament.

“Our path to membership should not take decades. We should take this path quickly,” Zelensky said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Ukrainian lawmakers that membership was “within reach”, but urged them to make anti-corruption reforms.

In a move that immediately heightened tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, the UN cultural agency has listed Ukraine’s culture of cooking borscht soup on its endangered cultural heritage list.

“Borscht’s War”

Ukraine considers the thick and nutritious soup, usually made from beets, a national dish although it is also widely eaten in Russia, other countries of the former Soviet Union and Poland.

UNESCO said the decision was approved after an accelerated process caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the “negative impact on this tradition” caused by the war.

“Victory in the Borscht War is ours… (we) will win both in the Borscht War and in this war,” Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram.

“To give the world a culinary example of ‘modern Kyiv nationalism’, I will quote a fact: hummus and pilaf are recognized as national dishes of several nations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. , on Telegram. “Everything is subject to Ukrainianization.”

On the ground, four people died and three were injured in shelling in Izium and Chugiv, two districts in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, in the past 24 hours, the head of the district said from Kharkiv Oleg Synegubov on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials have also accused Russian forces of relentlessly shelling the town of Lysychansk in the eastern Donbass region.

Capturing the city would allow the Russians to push deeper into Donbass, which has become the focus of their offensive since their failure to capture Kyiv after their invasion in February.

Sergiy Gaiday – governor of the Luhansk region, which includes Lysychansk – said the city continued to face heavy shelling.

Donbass under fire

“Evacuation from Lysychansk is not possible at this time,” he said. “The city is constantly being destroyed,” he added.

In Kyiv, authorities said schools in the Ukrainian capital would reopen for the start of the school year on September 1 for the first in-person classes since classes moved online after the invasion began.

Olena Fidanyan, head of Kyiv’s education and science department, said territories adjacent to schools will be checked for explosives and bomb shelters in schools will be replenished with water, medicine and other necessities.

On Thursday, Russian troops abandoned their positions on Snake Island, which became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the early days of the war and also a strategic target, on the fringes of shipping lanes near the port of Odessa.

“It does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already limits the actions of the occupiers considerably,” Zelensky said.

The Russian Defense Ministry described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” intended to demonstrate that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organize protected grain exports from Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine dominated the NATO summit in Madrid this week, where US President Joe Biden announced $800 million in new weapons for Kyiv and to ‘stay with Ukraine, for as long as it takes. to ensure that it will not be defeated by Russia”.

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