Deadly Russian attacks hit a civilian center and other targets in Odessa

A Ukrainian official said late Wednesday that a Russian missile attack overnight killed three people and wounded three others in Odesa, a city in southern Ukraine that has been a regular target of Russian missiles and drones trying to destroy its port infrastructure.

The attack followed a Russian airstrike Monday evening that killed five people and wounded about 30 others, Ukrainian officials said.

Videos and photos from Monday's strike showed lifeless and bloodied civilian bodies lying on a waterfront that was not known to be near strategic sites such as military buildings or grain warehouses.

Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday accused Russia of using cluster munitions – a controversial and widely banned weapon that can often cause indiscriminate harm to civilians – in that attack.

Wednesday's assault also damaged Odessa's civilian infrastructure, Oleh Kiper, head of the region's military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Andriy Kostin, Ukraine's prosecutor general, said in a statement that Russia fired an Iskander ballistic missile with a cluster warhead during Monday's assault. “Investigators have reason to believe that the decision to use such a weapon was made deliberately by Russian military officers to kill as many Ukrainian civilians as possible,” Kostin said.

His claim could not be independently verified. The statement included a video of the attack, from which it emerged that the assault had targeted a port area with several sports facilities nearby. The video also shows a constellation of around 30 explosions in rapid succession in the port area. The New York Times verified the authenticity of the video but not the nature of the weapon used.

Minutes before the explosions, Ukraine warned via a Telegram channel of missile launches from Crimea aimed at Odessa.

Konrad Muzyka, a military analyst at Rochan Consulting in Poland, said the explosions appeared to be the result of a cluster munition. Bridget Brink, US Ambassador to Ukraine, he wrote on the social media site X that Russia had used cluster munitions in that attack, adding: “The brutal and relentless nature of Russia's war cannot be overstated as these attacks against civilians continue every day.”

No comment from the Kremlin on the Odessa strikes. American officials said they were aware of Monday's attack and Ukrainian claims about cluster munitions, but could not confirm the use of the munitions.

Because of the danger cluster munitions pose to civilians, more than 100 countries signed a 2008 treaty known as the Cluster Munitions Convention, promising not to produce, use, transfer or stockpile them. The United States, Russia and Ukraine are not parties to the treaty.

Both Russia and Ukraine have used cluster munitions – a class of weapons that includes rockets, bombs, mortars, artillery shells and missiles that split apart in mid-air and scatter smaller submunitions such as explosive bombs, over hundreds of meters squares – during the war.

Originally designed before the advent of guided weapons, they are typically imprecise weapons designed to attack targets such as air defense sites, armored vehicles, and dismounted troops in a general area, and were often used on the front lines.

Bomb disposal experts and human rights groups have said that these bombs, mass-produced and made at low cost, generally have a 20% failure rate, often leaving behind dangerous fragments that can later explode if handled improperly. Because they are small, these wastes can remain unnoticed among debris or vegetation and weigh so little that children can pick them up without realizing the danger.

If confirmed, their use in Monday's attack could mark an escalation in Russia's tactics aimed at making life miserable for Ukrainian civilians, including bombing power plants to cut electricity to major cities. Moscow has repeatedly targeted urban centers in recent weeks, sometimes using weapons usually reserved for combat zones.

The area targeted by Monday's attack is popular with locals, who often walk there. A nearby Gothic-style building known locally as “Harry Potter's Castle”, which houses a private law academy, was engulfed in flames after the attack.

“The Russians launched a ballistic missile with a cluster munition at one of the most popular places among residents and visitors of Odessa, where people walked their children, dogs, played sports,” Kiper said on social networks.

Mr Kiper said a dog was also killed in the attack. Not verified Images The aftermath of the attack showed a woman in sportswear kneeling over a bloody white dog, as well as a woman lying at the foot of a bench next to a floor with impact marks.

Mr. Kostin, the attorney general, said fragments of the weapon were found within a radius of 1.5 kilometers, or about a mile, of the crash site.

Last year, the United States agreed to send 155-millimeter cluster artillery shells to the Ukrainian army to help it carry out its summer counteroffensive. The decision drew criticism from human rights organizations who highlighted the indiscriminate harm the weapons can cause to civilians.

Ukrainian officials and military experts say Russia's intensified attacks on major cities in recent weeks are aimed at intimidating residents and creating panic.

One of the main targets was Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, just 25 miles from the Russian border. Since March, Russia has targeted it for the first time with one of the deadliest weapons in its arsenal: powerful guided weapons known as glide bombs, which are dropped from warplanes and release hundreds of pounds of explosives in a single blast. explosion. The bombs are difficult to shoot down with air defense systems, leaving people essentially defenseless.

Russia again targeted Kharkiv with three glide bombs on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office. The strike killed at least one person and injured at least eight others, prosecutors said.

Dr. Oleksandr Volkov, a Kharkiv doctor with the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization, said in an emailed statement that the recent wave of strikes had made living conditions in the city “increasingly poor, marking a significant deterioration compared to the current ones. six month ago.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, DC

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