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Russia kills 21 with missiles near Odesa after abandoning Snake Island

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Russia kills 21 with missiles near Odesa after abandoning Snake Island

Missile hits apartment, resort Zelensky hails Snake Island victory Russia attack on Lysichansk denies targeting civilians

SERSHIVKA, Ukraine, July 1 (Reuters) – Russia flattened part of an apartment building while residents slept in a missile attack near the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa on Friday. At least 21 people were killed hours after Russian troops abandoned a nearby outpost, authorities said. Snake Island.

Neighbors at the resort Serhiivka help workers clear the rubble of a nine-story apartment building, part of which was completely destroyed by 1:00 a.m.

Walls and windows of a nearby 14-story apartment building were also damaged by the blast. Nearby holiday camps were also hit.

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“We came to the scene, assessing the situation with emergency personnel and locals, helping the survivors and those who died tragically. We helped take them away,” said Oleksandr Abramov, who lived nearby and rushed to the scene when he heard the explosion. time situation.

Odessa regional government spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said 21 people had been confirmed dead, including a 12-year-old boy. Authorities said 41 people had been rescued earlier from an apartment building where 152 people lived.

The region’s governor said the Soviet-era missiles were fired from the direction of the Black Sea.

The Kremlin denies targeting civilians: “I want to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian armed forces do not cooperate with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The attack came just four days after Russia attacked a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine, killing at least 19 people.

Kyiv said Moscow had dramatically escalated its long-range attacks on civilian targets far from the front lines in recent days, which Ukraine described as a war crime. Russia says it has been targeting military sites.

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what Ukraine says is an unprovoked war of aggression. Russia called the invasion a “special operation” to root out nationalists.

On Thursday, Russia withdrew its forces from Snake Island, a desolate but strategically important outcrop that it occupied on the first day of the war and used to control the northwest Black Sea and blockade Ode Sa and other ports.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised what he called the strategic victory of Snake Island in his nightly video address.

“It doesn’t guarantee safety yet. It doesn’t guarantee that the enemy won’t come back,” he said. “But it greatly limits the movements of the occupiers. We will drive them back from our seas, our lands and our skies, step by step.”

Standing ovation for the EU flag

In Kyiv, Ukrainian lawmakers stood to a standing ovation as the EU flag crossed the chamber, standing behind the podium next to the Ukrainian flag, a symbol of Ukraine’s official EU candidate status last week.

Zelensky and lawmakers also observed a minute’s silence for those killed in the morning attack near Odessa.

Russia intensified its long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian cities as its forces succeeded on the eastern battlefield, where a relentless offensive forced Kyiv to cede two provinces to separatists.

Moscow has been on the verge of taking over one of the provinces, Luhansk, since its worst fighting last week. The last Ukrainian fortress in Luhansk was the city of Lysichansk on the other side of the Sivirski Donets River, which was nearly surrounded by relentless Russian artillery fire.

Regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukrainian television that the Russians shelled Lysychansk from different directions and approached from multiple directions.

“The occupier’s firepower advantage is still very clear,” Zelensky said. “They just mobilized all the reserves to attack us.”

national symbol

In Russian-occupied Sievierodonetsk, residents emerge from basements to sift through the ruins of their city.

“Almost all of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed. We have been living without gas, electricity and water since May,” Sergey Olenik, 65, told Reuters. “We are very happy. This is over, and maybe soon rebuilding will begin and we’ll be back to more or less normal life.”

But after a defeat in the east, Ukraine’s victory at Snake Island gave Kyiv a major success in the Black Sea. The island has been a national symbol since the first day of the war, when Ukrainian guards who had been ordered to surrender by Russia radioed back: “Russian warships, fuck you”.

Russia has used its control of the oceans to impose a blockade on Ukraine, one of the world’s top food exporters, threatening to devastate Ukraine’s economy and trigger a global famine.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying it was due to Western sanctions hurting its exports. President Vladimir Putin met his Indonesian counterpart on Thursday and spoke by phone with his Indian counterpart on Friday, promising the two major food importers that Russia would remain a major supplier of food.

Pushing the Russians off Snake Island could be a step toward reopening the port of Odessa, although military analysts say Russia could still threaten cargo ships at sea.

Ukraine wants to inflict enough damage in the east to deplete Russia’s advancing troops and turn things around in the coming months with advanced weapons shipped from the West.

In the latest sign of Russia’s division from Europe, Russia’s ambassador to Bulgaria said she would call for the closure of her embassy, ​​as well as Bulgaria’s in Moscow, after Sofia refused to reinstate diplomats expelled for spying.

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Reporting by Reuters Division; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Nick McPhee

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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