News World An attack left two dead and damaged a cathedral in Odessa

An attack left two dead and damaged a cathedral in Odessa

An attack left two dead and damaged a cathedral in Odessa

Damage to the Church after suffering a bombing. Photo: AFP

Two people were killed and an Orthodox cathedral under UNESCO protection was damaged in Russian nighttime attacks on the southern port city of Odessa, Ukrainian authorities said Sunday, whose president vowed “retaliation.”

In Russia, meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin received his Belarusian counterpart and ally, Alexandr Lukashenko, and insisted that a counteroffensive launched by Ukraine to try to recover territories occupied by Russia has not achieved any objective so far.

Pope Francis lamented the bombings that damaged the Odessa Cathedralwhile the UN organization for culture (Unesco) described them as “brutal” and the European Union (EU) affirmed that they constituted a “war crime” of Russia.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that other 22 people were injured in the bombings, including four minors between the ages of 11 and 17.

The Ukrainian Air Force said Russia launched 19 land, sea and air missiles at the Black Sea city, nine of which were shot down.

“Missiles against peaceful cities, against homes, against a cathedral,” President Volodimir Zelensky said.

“There will be reprisals against Russian terrorists for what happened in Odessa,” promised.

In the attacks, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration, originally built in the 18th century and located in the historic center of Odessa, under UNESCO protection, was bombed.

Orthodox priests managed to rescue icons from the rubble.

“There was a direct attack on the cathedral and three altars were completely damaged,” Father Miroslav said.deputy rector of the temple.

The priest added that the building was “badly damaged inside” and that only the bell tower remained intact, the AFP news agency reported.

Lukashenko and Putin in permanent contact. Photo: AFP

Russia said it had hit all the targets set in Odessa and that the cathedral was damaged by the remains of missiles fired by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses.

The Russian Army said it had attacked during the night “installations where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared by means of unmanned boats” and in which there were foreign mercenaries.

Odessa Cathedral was demolished under Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1936 and rebuilt in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry described the attack as a “war crime that will not be forgotten or forgiven” and added that the cathedral “was destroyed twice, by Stalin and by Putin.”

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said she condemned the “brutal bombings” “in the strongest possible terms”

“These terrible destructions signify a new escalation of violence against Ukraine’s cultural heritage,” Azoulay said in a statement.

“I urge the Russian Federation to take tangible steps to comply with its obligations under international law,” he added.

In the Vatican, The Pope lamented the Russian attack on Odessa in his message to the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square after the Angelus prayer.

“We continue to pray for peace, in a special way for beloved Ukraine, which continues to suffer death and destruction, as unfortunately happened tonight in Odessa,” Francis said.

The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, accused Russia of a “new war crime”.

“The constant terror of Russian missiles on Odessa, under the protection of UNESCO, constitutes another new war crime of the Kremlin, which has also demolished the main Orthodox cathedral, a world heritage site,” wrote on Twitter.

AFP file photo
Photo: AFP file

Odessa has been repeatedly bombarded since Russia withdrew a week ago from a year-long deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported across the Black Sea.

Russia claimed that its demand that the barriers to its exports of food and fertilizers be lifted had not been met, and warned that after this there would be no more “security guarantees” in the Black Sea.

The attack on Odessa came hours before a meeting in St. Petersburg between Putin and Lukashenko.

The meeting, which will last two days, is the first between the two leaders since Belarus mediated to put an end to the mutiny of the Wagner group mercenaries in Russia four weeks ago.

The deal that ended the uprising included the exile to Belarus of Wagner’s fighters, and Lukashenko hinted on Sunday that they were eager to attack Poland, an ally of Ukraine, but that he was keeping them on his territory.

At the beginning of the meeting at the Konstantinovsky Palace, the Russian president asserted that the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched at the beginning of June to try to recover the land invaded by Moscow in the south and east of Ukraine “has failed.”

“It does not exist. It has failed. There are no results,” Putin proclaimed.

The Belarusian leader referred to the Wagner group, which fought alongside the Russian Army in Ukraine until June 24 when it rebelled for a few hours against the leadership of the Army and the Ministry of Defense for the course of the war.

The uprising was not directed against Putin, but it seriously challenged his authority as never before in more than 20 years in power in Russia.

Lukashenko took a dart into neighboring Poland, through whose territory Western weapons reach neighboring Ukraine and which is uneasy to have Wagner’s men at its border gates.

“I may not have to say it, but I’m going to. The ‘Wagnerites’ are starting to push us: ‘We want to go west. Let us.’ I ask them why they want to go west. ‘Well, we want to go on an excursion to Warsaw, to Rzeszow,'” he said.

Rzeszow is one of the Polish airports where US and other allied war supplies arrive for shipment to Ukraine.

Putin responded with a smile, and Lukashenoko added: “But of course, I keep them in the center of Belarus, just as we agreed.”

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