KYIV: Hours after the completion of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference when President Biden pledged to help Ukraine "for as long as it takes," a strategic bomber from Russia began the nocturnal attack, the latest in a surge of Russian strikes.
Russia has increasingly used its strategic bombers to launch antiship missiles at Ukrainian targets.. At least 20 people were killed earlier this week in a similar attack on a mall in central Ukraine, and after several weeks of relative calm, a volley of missiles hit Kyiv, the country's capital.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odessa regional government, said that "Russia must be held accountable for its crimes," adding that the Russians had employed Soviet X-22 rockets. "This missile's warhead alone weights almost a tonne,"
The Ukrainian president's office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and two campsites. "A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians," Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said. Ukraine's Security Service said 21 people died, including two children.
It said another 38, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalised with injuries. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said. The airstrikes followed the pullout of Russian forces from Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to potentially ease the threat to nearby Odesa, home to Ukraine's biggest port. The island sits along a busy shipping lane. In eastern Ukraine, Russian forces kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the country's Donbas region. Moscow-backed separatists have controlled much of the region for eight years.