Ukraine denounces a ““deliberate Russian terror” and renewed calls for Western anti-missile defense systems following deadly strikes in the Odessa region, while Kyiv forces face an “extremely difficult” situation in Lysychansk, a key city in the battle for Donbass.
• Also read: Around Lysytchansk “it bombs day and night”
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• Also read: 21 killed in strategic bombing raids near Odessa
According to Ukraine’s military and civilian authorities, at least 21 people, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed before dawn on Friday by three Russian missiles that destroyed “a large building” and “a tourist complex” in Sergiyivka city on the Black Sea coast, about 80 km from Odessa, in southern Ukraine.
“This is deliberate Russian terror and not a few mistakes or an accidental missile attack,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned late Friday night, while local authorities assured that “there was not the slightest military target” at the site of the attacks.
In response to the Ukrainian allegations, the Kremlin assured that “Russia’s armed forces are not operating against civilian targets” in Ukraine, a response Berlin called “inhumane and cynical”.
According to Kyiv, 38 people were injured during the strikes in Sergiyivka, including five children, two of them in serious condition.
“I urge our partners to equip Ukraine with missile defense systems as soon as possible. Help us save lives,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba appealed again on Twitter, calling Russia a “terrorist state.”
According to the Ukrainian Army, the weapons used against Serguiivka were Cold War Soviet cruise missiles intended to hit a carrier battle group, of the same type as those used in broad daylight in a shopping center in Kremenchuk (central Ukraine). ) met Monday, Ukraine, 200 km from the front) and killed at least 19 people according to the last, still preliminary aid report.
Mr. Zelensky acknowledged that the situation in Lysytchansk, industrial Donbass, remained “extremely difficult” where most of the fighting is concentrated and where the Russians are “trying to encircle” the Ukrainian army “from the south and east.” according to local governor Serguiï Gaïdaï.
In its daily morning report on the situation at the front on Saturday, the Ukrainian general staff reiterated that “the Russians carried out an offensive [vers une localité à quelques kilomètres à l’ouest de la ville]without success, and withdrew”.
On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that its forces had “arrived at the gates of Lysytchansk” and inflicted “heavy casualties” on the Ukrainian army.
Lysytchansk is the last major non-Russian city in the Lugansk region, one of the two provinces of Donbass, a largely Russian-speaking region that Moscow wants to control completely.
About sixty kilometers to the west, in Sloviansk, a Donbass city not far from those of Izium and Lyman already in the hands of Russian forces, a rocket attack on Friday evening hit occupied houses and caused the death of a woman who was in in her yard and injured her husband, a neighbor told an AFP journalist on Saturday morning, showing the damage to buildings in the neighborhood.
According to the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, four civilians have been killed and twelve injured in Sloviansk since Friday morning.
For at least a week, Sloviansk has been hit by rocket fire day and night, hitting residential areas.
In response to Ukraine’s calls for additional weapons, the Pentagon on Friday announced $820 million in new military aid to Kyiv, including up to 150,000 155mm grenades, new missiles for the US Himars multiple rocket launcher, which recently launched arrived on the battlefield, as well as NASAMS Air Defense Systems (made in America and Norway) capable of launching short- and medium-range surface-to-air missiles.
Norway, for its part, announced aid in the form of a donation of around 960 million euros, which could enable Kyiv to purchase weapons in particular.
Faced with Russia’s naval blockade preventing it from exporting its wheat, Ukraine on Friday asked Turkey to intercept a Russian cargo ship leaving the port of Berdyansk in the occupied zone, which it suspects is carrying thousands transported tons of grain stolen from Moscow.
As if to illustrate the issue of the grain war that Moscow has imposed on Kyiv and that worries many African countries that depend on Ukrainian wheat for their food security, the Ukrainian army confirmed on Friday night with a video in support of the Russian army twice bombing snakes have ‘ island with phosphorus bombs, an islet in the Black Sea off the Ukrainian and Romanian coasts and indispensable for controlling maritime traffic, which Moscow had withdrawn the previous day as a “show of goodwill”.
For its part, Kyiv claims that the Russians have been driven out by repeated Ukrainian strikes.
At the diplomatic level, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a video address to Kiev’s parliament on Friday, called for speeding up its anti-corruption reforms as part of the EU’s accession candidacy, which was adopted at the end of June, calling for the leaders of Twenty- Seven.
She also welcomed the adoption of a law to combat “the excessive influence of oligarchs on the economy” and called for the adoption of a “media law that will bring Ukrainian legislation into line with European Union standards.”