At least 21 people were killed, including two children, in Russian missile attacks on a village near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, authorities said, a day after the withdrawal of invading Russian forces from a strategic Black Sea island.
Video of the aftermath of the July 1 attack showed the charred remains of buildings in Serhiyivka, located about 50 kilometers southwest of Odessa. According to Ukrainian reports, missiles hit a multi-storey building and a recreation center.
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Ukrainian authorities linked the missile strikes to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island a day earlier.
“A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians,” said Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. said on Twitter.
According to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odessa regional military administration, rescuers have so far found 21 dead as a result of the missile attack.
Ukrainian emergency officials earlier said two children were among the dead and said 38 people were injured, including three children.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted photos of the destruction on Twitter and appealed for weapons.
“The Russian terrorist state continues its war against civilians with nightly missile fire on the Odessa region, killing dozens of people, including children,” he added. he said. “I urge partners to provide Ukraine with modern missile defense systems as soon as possible. Help us save lives and end this war.”
The withdrawal of Russian forces from Snake Island was expected to potentially lessen the threat to nearby Odessa. The island lies along a busy shipping lane.
The Kremlin described the withdrawal as a “goodwill gesture”. The Ukrainian army called for a barrage from its artillery and missiles forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats. The exact number of troops withdrawing has not been disclosed.
Control of Snake Island, located about 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast near the Danube Delta, had allowed Russia to threaten the sea lanes leading to Odessa, the main Ukrainian port for shipping grain to the world.
General Valery Zaluzhny, commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, said on July 1 that Russian planes had dropped phosphorus bombs on the island.
“The leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation does not even adhere to its own statements, which declare a ‘goodwill gesture,'” Zaluzhny said on Telegram. He posted a video of the explosions hitting the island on Facebook .
The attacks on civilian buildings in Serhiyivka took place on the 19th of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion, with Russian forces otherwise focusing on what Ukrainians call a “huge” bombardment of the last major city that resists the east, Lysychansk, and the bombardment of civilian settlements in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
It also follows an attack earlier this week at a crowded shopping mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine. Ukrainian officials called the mall attack a “terrorist” act, while Moscow denied responsibility.
Ukraine’s state emergency service on July 1 raised the confirmed death toll in the attack to 19 and the number of injured to 64. Of the injured, 26 were hospitalized. The attorney general’s office reported that 36 people were still missing.
WATCH: Survivors of the Russian missile attack on the Amstor shopping mall in Kremenchuk on June 27 describe pulling themselves out of the rubble, being helped by strangers and nearly dying by pure chance.
The head of the military administration of the Luhansk region in the east, Serhiy Hayday, said that Lysychansk “is constantly bombarded with large [gun] calibers” by Russian forces attempting to encircle the strategic hilltop city – a key battleground in Moscow’s bid to capture Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbass.
After weeks of fighting that killed hundreds of civilians and turned the city to rubble, Moscow has taken control of the neighboring town of Syevyerodonetsk and is now setting its sights on Lysychansk.
The United States said on July 1 that a new military aid package worth $820 million will include new surface-to-air missile systems and anti-artillery radar systems.
“We will support Ukraine as long as it takes,” US President Joe Biden said on June 30 after a NATO summit in Madrid.
Under the new package, the United States will buy two systems known as NASAMS, an anti-aircraft system developed by Norway.
Zelenskiy thanked Biden for providing the NASAMS, which he said will “dramatically strengthen our anti-aircraft defense.”
In addition to NASAMS, the package includes artillery munitions and radar systems, he said in a video message late July 1.
According to Zelenskiy, Ukraine is actively negotiating other new weapons with partners.
“It is necessary for Donbass, for the Kharkiv region, for southern Ukraine. We are doing everything to break the advantage of the occupiers,” he said.