Strikes on Odesa after Russia quits Snake Island
STORY: Combing the rubble for survivors of what Ukrainian authorities said was a deadly Russian missile strike on an apartment block on Friday (July 1) near the Black Sea port of Odesa.Hours after Russian troops were driven off the strategic nearby outcrop of Snake Island in a victory for Ukraine that could be a step towards reopening Odesa’s port, though military analysts say Russia could still threaten cargo ships at sea.Russia seized the desolate island on the war’s first day and used it to control the northeastern Black Sea and blockade Odesa and other ports.In his nightly video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said retaking it would, quote, “limit the actions of the occupiers.”Most of those killed in the apartment block strike, which used long-range missiles, were fast asleep.They also hit two holiday camps nearby, killing at least three people including a child, a regional administration official said.The Kremlin denied striking the apartment block, repeating its assertion that it does not target civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to root out nationalists. Ukraine calls it an unprovoked war of aggression.Russia has escalated deadly attacks deep in Ukraine in recent days, far from the front lines.In Kyiv lawmakers, with Zelenskiy at the helm, marked a minute’s silence for those killed in Odesa. Reuters could not independently confirm details of the attacks.They gave a standing ovation as the flag of the European Union was carried through the chamber to stand alongside Ukraine’s own. Ukraine was granted formal EU candidate status last week.Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, offered a message of support by video-link on Friday.”There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union.”Russia has focused its main ground campaign on eastern Ukraine where it demands Kyiv cede full control of two provinces to pro-Russian separatist proxies.