Russia attacked a residential building and a recreation center near Odesa, southern Ukraine, with missile strikes overnight, killing at least 20 people, including a toddler, according to officials on Friday.
According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Services, sixteen people were killed in the housing complex. A second missile hit a community center, killing four people, one of whom was a child. And a third missile landed in a field. Responders reported that the three missiles hurt at least 38 individuals.
Speaking from the scene of the Russian missile attacks on Friday, First Deputy Interior Minister Yevhenii Yenin said, “We don’t expect to find anyone alive, but there is a chance.”
Images from the site showed the residential building was broken apart, and the ground was covered in debris.
For several weeks, fighting has raged throughout the Odesa region, which is situated along the Black Sea, a crucial strategic waterway.
Some Ukrainian authorities were cautiously confident that reclaiming Snake Island, an outpost of theirs in the Black Sea, would result in a decrease in the shelling of Odesa.
At a briefing on Friday, Andrii Demchenko, a spokeswoman for the state border agency, said, “It’s now known why the enemy took [Snake] island. They filled the territory with the means of destruction and fired from them. We hope now shelling of the territory of Ukraine will decrease.”
On Friday, Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, disputed that the Russian military targets residential areas in Ukraine. He also reiterated the often-repeated claim that Russia focuses its air strikes on structures housing weapons or facilities used for military training. However, like with past instances of similar accusations following Russian strikes, he did not offer proof that this was the case.
Since concentrating attacks in the east of Ukraine, Russia has gained some gradual but important victories.
Despite Ukraine only acknowledging a “partial” Russian triumph, a Luhansk People’s Republic official claimed on Friday that Russian troops had “completely taken control” of an oil refinery in the beleaguered city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine.
According to Serhii Hayday, the commander of the military administration for the Luhansk region, the Russian assault on Lysychansk has been ruthless.
“People dream of at least half an hour of silence, but the occupiers do not stop firing from all available weapons,” Hayday said Thursday.