A Ukrainian official said Thursday that Russian forces carried out an overnight missile strike on the Odesa region in southern Ukraine, killing at least one person.
Oleh Kiper, the regional governor, said the attack damaged a small security building, equipment at a cargo terminal and two cars.
Kiper said the attack involved missiles fired from a submarine in the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s air force said it shot down one of two missiles Russia fired targeting Odesa, while air defense also downed eight drones that Russia launched overnight.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media that he visited the city of Dnipro, in southeastern Ukraine, to meet with military commanders and discuss issues regarding supplies and strengthening air defenses.
Russian bombardments are taking a heavy toll on Ukrainian cultural sites as well as grain supplies that Kyiv had been shipping to impoverished countries.
The mounting damage was spelled out Wednesday at unusual back-to-back U.N. Security Council meetings on Ukraine.
According to UNESCO, since the war began in February 2022, at least 274 Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged, including 117 religious sites.
“Religious sites should be places of worship, not places of war,” Nihal Saad, director of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, told the council in her briefing.
But Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy permanent U.N. ambassador, said Zelenskyy’s government was conducting a “campaign” to destroy orthodoxy in Ukraine.
He dismissed condemnations of Russia’s missile strike Sunday on the Transfiguration Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the southern city of Odesa, and suggested it was Ukraine’s fault.
“If the Russian missile truly struck the cathedral, as the Zelenskyy regime claims, then there would be nothing left of the cathedral at all,” Polyansky told the Security Council. “But it was damaged and not completely destroyed.”
At the second hearing, requested by Kyiv, Khaled Khiari, assistant secretary-general for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, told the council that Russian strikes on grain facilities are “a calamitous turn for Ukrainians and the world.” Moscow withdrew last week from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which protected Ukrainian shipments to other countries.
“Port cities that allow for the export of grain, such as Odesa, Reni and Izmail, are a lifeline for many,” Khiari said. “Now, they are the latest casualties in this senseless, brutal war.”
Officials say that strikes on Odesa have damaged infrastructure important for future grain exports. A strike on the port of Chornomorsk last week destroyed 60,000 metric tons of grain, enough to feed 270,000 people for one year, the Word Food Program said.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia’s attacks have global consequences for the world’s food supply, especially in parts of the world struggling with hunger and malnutrition.
“Russia is hell-bent on preventing Ukrainian grain from reaching global markets, which is why it unilaterally suspended its participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative,” she said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was continuing to try to find a way to restart the deal.
Russia has altered its naval activity in the Black Sea, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday, adding that there is a possibility Russian forces are preparing “to enforce a blockade of Ukraine” after withdrawing from the year-old grain shipment deal.
The Defense Ministry said in its daily update that the Russian corvette Sergey Kotov had deployed to the Black Sea to patrol a shipping lane between the Bosporus and Odesa.
“There is a realistic possibility that it will form part of a task group to intercept commercial vessels Russia believes are heading to Ukraine,” the British ministry said.