Explosions rock Mykolaiv in Ukraine after missiles kill 21 near Odessa

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SERHIIVKA – Powerful explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv early Saturday, the mayor said, a day after authorities announced that at least 21 people had been killed when Russian missiles hit a building near the port of Odessa on the Black Sea.

Air raid sirens sounded in the Mykolaiv region, which borders the vital export port of Odessa, before the explosions.

“There are powerful explosions in the city! Stay in the shelters! Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

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It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions. Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Explosions leveled part of a building as residents slept on Friday, the latest in a series of what Ukraine says are Russian missile attacks targeting civilians.

In his Friday night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denounced the strikes as « conscious and deliberately targeted Russian terror and not some kind of mistake or chance missile strike. »

Kyiv says Moscow has stepped up its long-range missile attacks, hitting civilian targets far from the front line. Russia says it was targeting military sites. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cited President Vladimir Putin’s statements « that the Russian armed forces do not work with civilian targets ».

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A Russian missile hit a crowded shopping center in central Ukraine earlier this week, killing at least 19 people.

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what Moscow calls a « special operation » to eradicate nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this is an unprovoked war of aggression.

Residents of the resort village of Serhiivka helped workers excavate the rubble of the nine-storey building, part of which had been destroyed during Friday morning’s strike.

The walls and windows of a nearby 14-story building were damaged by the shock wave. Nearby holiday camps were also affected.

“We came here to the site, assessed the situation with rescuers and locals, and helped those who survived together. And those who have sadly passed away. We helped take them away,” said Oleksandr Abramov, who lives nearby and had rushed to the scene when he heard the explosion.

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Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa regional administration, said 21 people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Among the victims was an employee of the rehabilitation center for children set up by Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova in the resort town.

The strike on Serhiivka came shortly after Russia withdrew its troops from Snake Island, a strategically important outcrop about 140 km (85 miles) southeast of Odessa which it seized on the first day of the war.

Ukraine’s Chief of the General Staff, Valeriy Zaluzhny, has accused Russia of not respecting its claims that it left Snake Island as a « goodwill gesture ». On his Telegram channel, Zaluzhny said two Russian warplanes took off from a base in Crimea and bombed targets on the island on Friday night.

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He posted a video of what he said was the attack. Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the video or the Russian action depicted. There was no immediate Russian comment.

Russian forces had used Snake Island to control the northwest Black Sea and blockade Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters.

Moscow denies being responsible for a food crisis, which it says is caused by Western sanctions hurting its own exports.

Putin met with the Indonesian president on Thursday and spoke by phone with the Indian prime minister on Friday, promising the two major food importers that Russia would remain a big grain supplier.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from territories that Russian forces have seized since its invasion.

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The Kremlin denied stealing grain and did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.


The intensification of Russia’s campaign of missile attacks against Ukrainian cities coincides with the success of its forces on the battlefield in the east, with the aim of forcing Ukraine to cede the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Moscow has been on the verge of capturing Luhansk since capturing the city of Sievierodonetsk last week after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

Ukraine’s last stronghold in Luhansk is Sievierodonetsk’s sister city, Lysychansk, across the Siverskyi Donets River, which is about to be encircled by Russian artillery barrages.

In Sievierodonetsk, under Russian occupation, the inhabitants came out of the basements to sift through the rubble of their city.

“Almost all the city’s infrastructure is destroyed. We have been living without gas, electricity and water since May,” Sergei Oleinik, 65, told Reuters.

More weapons were needed in eastern and southern Ukraine, Zelenskiy said, as the Pentagon announced that the United States was sending two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and ammunition as part of their latest weapons package.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by William Mallard)



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