Kyiv, Ukraine: At least three people were killed and 13 wounded in a Russian missile attack on the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa early Wednesday, authorities said.
Russia fired four Kalibr missiles from a ship in the Black Sea, Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the region’s military administration, said on Telegram.
A strike on a retail chain’s warehouse killed three employees and wounded seven others, he said.
“There may be people under the rubble,” he added.
Six other people were wounded after a business centre, shops and a residential complex in the city centre were damaged “as a result of air combat and the blast wave”, he said.
Air defences shot down two of the missiles, according to the military administration.
Odesa was a favourite holiday destination for many Ukrainians and Russians before President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February last year.
Odesa has been bombed several times since the start of the invasion, and in January the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO designated the historic centre of the city as a World Heritage in Danger site.
Moscow has intensified its nightly attacks on major Ukrainian cities in recent weeks while Kyiv has launched a long-awaited counter-offensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.
The latest strikes came a day after a missile attack on Kryvyi Rig, the hometown of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, killed 11 people.
Authorities in the southeast Dnipropetrovsk region which includes Kryvyi Rig also reported a fresh Russian drone attack overnight.
“All three ‘Shaheds’ were shot down in the sky over the region,” regional governor Serhiy Lysak said on Telegram, referring to the Iranian attack drones Russia uses.
While Ukraine says it is making gains after launching its counter-offensive, Putin on Tuesday claimed his forces were inflicting “catastrophic” losses on their opponents.
– IAEA chief to visit plant –
Putin conceded during a Kremlin meeting that Russian forces were suffering from diminishing stockpiles of some military equipment, pointing in particular to attack drones and missiles.
Kyiv quickly fired back insisting Ukraine’s push, bolstered with Western weapons and training, had “certain gains, implementing our plans, moving forward”.
According to military analysts, Ukraine has not yet committed the bulk of its forces in its counter-offensive. It is currently still testing the front with probing attacks to determine weak points.
In recent days, Kyiv has claimed to have re-captured a series of villages in its eastern Donetsk region.
“Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in at least three directions and made further limited territorial gains on June 13,” Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest analysis.
Meanwhile, UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi is expected to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Wednesday.
The safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, located in Ukraine’s southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, has been a concern since Russian forces seized it over a year ago during Moscow’s war on its neighbour.
Those concerns have been exacerbated by the breach of the Kakhovka dam which forms a reservoir that provides the cooling water for the plant.
The International Atomic Energy Agency director general said there was “no immediate situation” but the water level in the cooling pond was of concern.
“I want to make my own assessment. I want to go there, discuss with the management there what measures they are taking, and then make as I said a more definitive assessment of what kind of danger we have,” Grossi said after meeting with Zelensky in Kyiv.
The IAEA has warned that the dam disaster — which claimed at least 17 lives and has left dozens missing — further complicated “an already precarious nuclear safety and security situation” at the plant.
Kyiv has accused Moscow of blowing up the dam on the Dnipro River, while Russia has blamed Ukraine.