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War in Ukraine: Russian strikes on Odessa damaged the Orthodox Cathedral

At least one person has been killed and 19 injured in Russian missile attacks on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, officials said.

The Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral in the historic center, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also badly damaged.

Russia said its targets in Odessa were being used to prepare “terrorist acts” and blamed Sunday’s attack on the cathedral on Ukrainian air defense.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed revenge.

Moscow has launched near-constant attacks on Odessa since it withdrew from the landmark grain deal on Monday.

Oleg Kiper, the governor of the region, said 14 people, including four children, were taken to hospital on Sunday after explosions also destroyed six residential buildings. .

Kyiv has accused Russia of “destroying” the cathedral as part of a campaign to “systematically” harm the Orthodox Church in the country.

“A war crime that will never be forgotten and forgiven #RussiaIsATerroristState,” the Foreign Office tweeted.

The damage is as colossal as the cathedral itself. The cracks in its walls reflect the tension in which Odessa found itself after a week of constant attacks from the sky.

There is no doubt that it was a direct missile hit.

Most of the roof is missing. The thick ancient walls of the building are still standing, but there are columns tilted at an alarming angle.

In the early hours of the morning following the impact, teams furiously collected debris.

They show us fragments of what they say was a Russian missile that destroyed a temple that is under Moscow’s control. A cruel irony that is probably unintentional.

The building is the largest Orthodox church in Odessa and was consecrated in 1809. It was demolished by the Soviet Union in 1939 and then rebuilt in 2003.

Andrei Palchuk, the cathedral’s protodeacon, said he was the first to arrive on the scene.

“The destruction is huge, half of the cathedral was left without a roof, the central piles and the foundation were destroyed,” he said.

“All the windows and stucco flew out. There was a fragmentary fire, the part where icons and candles are sold in the temple caught fire. Everything was on fire, on fire.”

UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, said it was “deeply alarmed and condemns in the strongest possible terms” the attack on the historic center of Odessa.

He repeatedly urged Russia to stop attacks on Odessa. Earlier this year, the organization’s historic center was listed as a World Heritage in Danger, despite opposition from Russia.

But in a Facebook update, Ukraine’s southern command said Russia had hit the Odessa region with at least five different types of missiles.

The head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, has repeatedly called for an increase in the number of missiles and defense systems since the latest attack on Odessa.

“This is an undisguised terror of a peaceful city,” Yermak wrote on Telegram. “The enemy must be prevented from attacking civilians and infrastructure.”

Moscow has notably stepped up its attacks on the port city after pulling out of a UN-backed grain deal on Monday, with Ukraine accusing it of hitting grain supplies and infrastructure vital to the deal.

The strike earlier this week destroyed about 60,000 tons of grain, officials said.

Odessa is Ukraine’s largest port, and under the deal, millions of tons of grain were shipped from its docks.

The deal between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Turkey and the UN, was concluded in July 2022 and allows cargo ships to navigate the corridor in the Black Sea.

Source: BBC