Unhappy Easter

Airstrikes damaged buildings, killing at least eight people, including a 3-month-old girl, Saturday in the Black Sea port city of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said. However, life in Odesa, an economically important port city, had essentially returned to normal, and many residents were preparing to celebrate Orthodox Easter.

Residents of an apartment building damaged in a Russian airstrike stand outside in the cold. Image by: Max Pshybyshevsky/AP

The Washington Post reports that “According to Ukraine’s air force, missiles hit two apartment buildings and a military facility midafternoon local time Saturday.” Ukrainian air defense forces shot down two additional missiles. Unfortunately, the debris from one of them hit another residential building.

A video shown on social media and verified by the Post shows billowing smoke coming from a tall building near a grassy area.

Footage of the building shortly after impact. Video courtesy of YouTube, The Guardian, and TPXA.net

In addition to the eight killed, at least eighteen others were wounded. One of the victims burned in his car parked near the building that was hit.

In a Telegram post, Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, announced one of the first reports of the deaths. At the time of his post, three victims had yet to be found.

Translation: “5 killed and 18 wounded Ukrainian citizens. These are only those who have found. And most likely, there will be more. Among the killed – three-month child. Malea, who had to meet with his parents his first Easter. Nothing sacred. Absolutely. Evil will be punished.” Image courtesy of Telegram and Andriy Yermak.

A Heads-Up From SOFREP

In a piece I posted on SOFREP earlier today, I noted that we should “keep an eye out for military operations around Odesa.”  I figured that the Russians would be up to something in the region shortly, but I had no idea it would be within hours. Odesa is the largest city in the southern part of Ukraine. It has enormous cultural significance to both Ukraine and Russia, as it was founded by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

The city is also only 50 miles from the breakaway republic of Transnistria in eastern Moldova. Transnistria is mainly Russian-speaking, and Putin has over fifteen hundred troops stationed there. If Russia were to move to take Moldova, they would control nearly all Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea. A move like that could signal that Putin is intent on taking back more pieces of the old Soviet Union.

Searching for More Victims

The main structure that the attack destroyed was a 16-story residential building in Arkadia, a popular residential area of Odesa. Local emergency services workers are digging through rubble, looking for more victims and hopefully survivors.

Ukrainian military sources tell us that the missiles were launched by a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bomber coming from the direction of the Caspian Sea. In addition to being a strategic bomber, the Tu-95 is also a missile platform.

Speaking at a press conference later in the day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia fired seven missiles at Odesa on April 23, including the two that were intercepted.

Today, the Security Service of Ukraine, a government law enforcement and intelligence agency, warned Ukrainians to stay home during Easter festivities over threats of Russian attacks that they feared could target churchgoers.