One person has been killed and five wounded after Russian forces fired seven missiles from the air at the vital Black Sea port of Odesa, the Ukrainian military has said.
“While seeking strategic targets, obsolete missiles managed to hit an ‘extremely dangerous’ shopping center and a warehouse for consumer goods,” Natalya Gumenyuk, a military spokeswoman, said on Facebook.
Photos on the post showed what appeared to be the warehouse engulfed in flames.
It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his country’s biggest patriotic holiday without even uttering the word “Ukraine”.
The Russian leader oversaw a Victory Day parade on Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, watching as troops marched in formation and military hardware rolled past in a celebration of the Soviet Union’s role in the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany.
Many Western analysts had expected Mr Putin to use the holiday to trumpet some kind of victory in Ukraine or announce an escalation, but he did neither. Instead, he sought to justify the war again as a necessary response to what he portrayed as a hostile Ukraine.
“The danger was rising by the day,” Mr Putin said. “Russia has given a pre-emptive response to aggression. It was forced, timely, and the only correct decision.”
With the conflict grinding through its 11th week, he steered clear of battlefield specifics, failing to mention the potentially pivotal battle for the vital southern port of Mariupol.
Meanwhile, on the ground, intense fighting raged in Ukraine’s east. And Russian forces sought to end the resistance of Ukrainian defenders making their last stand at a steel plant in Mariupol.
Mr Putin has long bristled at Nato’s creep eastward into former Soviet republics. Ukraine and its Western allies have denied the country posed any threat.
After unexpectedly fierce resistance forced the Kremlin to abandon its effort to storm Kyiv over a month ago, Moscow’s forces have concentrated on capturing the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial region.
But the fighting there has been a back-and-forth, village-by-village slog, and analysts had suggested Mr Putin might use his holiday speech to present the Russian people with a victory amid discontent over the country’s heavy casualties and the punishing effects of Western sanctions.
Others suggested he might declare the fighting a war, not just a “special military operation”, and order a nationwide mobilisation, with a call-up of reserves, to replenish the depleted ranks for an extended conflict.
In the end, he gave no signal as to where the war is headed or how he might intend to salvage it. Specifically, he left unanswered the question of whether or how Russia will marshal more forces for a continuing war.
As Mr Putin laid a wreath in Moscow, air raid sirens echoed again in the Ukrainian capital. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared in his own Victory Day address that his country would eventually defeat the Russians.
“Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine,” he said in a video. He added: “We are fighting for freedom, for our children, and therefore we will win.”
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