Odesa hit by missiles as Ukraine claims it has sunk second Russian ship

The Ukrainian port city of Odesa was hit by renewed Russian missile strikes on Saturday, as military authorities in Kyiv claimed one of their drones had sunk a second Russian ship in the Black Sea.

A counter-offensive against Russia also appeared to be gathering pace in the north, where analysts said that Ukraine’s military may be able to push Russian forces out of artillery range of the country’s second city of Kharkiv in the coming days.

However, there were fears that dozens of people have been killed in the shelling of a school in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been concentrting its military push in recent days.

At least two people have been confirmed dead after Russian bombs hit the school in the Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka, Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said on Sunday.

Gaidai said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building. Thirty people have been rescued but he said 60 people remained under the rubble

The Ukrainian claim to have destroyed another Russian ship – after the sinking of the warship Moskva in the Black Sea last month – was accompanied by footage showing what was said to have been a strike by a Bayraktar drone on a vessel docked at Snake Island.

“The traditional parade of the Russian Black Sea fleet on 9 May this year will be held near Snake Island – at the bottom of the sea,” tweeted Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence.

Satellite photos analysed by the Associated Press show the aftermath of an apparent Ukrainian drone strike on Friday on Russian positions on Snake Island, with thick black smoke rising overhead.

Elsewhere, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister said all women, children and elderly people had been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Ukraine had said 50 civilians were evacuated on Friday, but accused Russia of violating a ceasefire intended to allow dozens more still trapped at the plant to leave.

The final evacuees followed about 500 others who were allowed to leave the plant and other parts of the city in recent days.

Russia’s defence ministry confirmed the completion of an operation to evacuate civilians from the plant. In an online posting, the ministry said a total of 51 people had been rescued since the three-day operation started on Thursday, including one person on Saturday. The 51 comprised 18 men, 22 women and 11 children, it added.

In Moscow, Russia’s most senior lawmaker accused the US of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct US involvement in military action against Russia.

“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Washington and European members of the transatlantic Nato alliance have supplied Kyiv with heavy weapons to help it resist a Russian offensive that has resulted in the occupation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine but failed to take Kyiv.

However, the US and its Nato allies have repeatedly said they will not take part in fighting themselves, in order to avoid becoming parties to the conflict.Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BSThttps://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/morning-briefing

The conflict in Ukraine is taking a “heavy toll” on some of Russia’s most capable units, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence report.

At least one T-90M, Russia’s most advanced tank, has been destroyed in fighting, the ministry added. “It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict,” the report said.

A Washington-based thinktank, the Institute for the Study of War, also said in its most recent assessment that Ukraine’s military may be able to push Russian forces “out of artillery range of Kharkiv in the coming days”, providing a respite for the city and an opportunity to build the defenders’ momentum “into a successful, broader counteroffensive”.

Meanwhile, several missiles hit Odesa earlier on Saturday, according toa Ukrainian local government spokesperson,after targets in the surrounding region had been hit by four missiles earlier.

The strikes outside the city were from four Russian cruise missiles fired from aircraft, according to Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s southern operational command.

She added that the strike targeted the city of Arcyz and no one was injured.

The World Health Organization told Ukrainians in Kyiv on Saturday that the WHO stood by them in their conflict with Russia, and urged Moscow to stop waging war on its neighbour.

The director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “My message to all the people of Ukraine is this, WHO stands by you.”

The WHO emergencies director, Mike Ryan, told the same news conference at the government media centre in Kyiv that the WHO had already documented 200 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, and would pass its findings on to those who could assess whether crimes had been committed.

You May Also Like