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1 Dead in Odesa as Russia Strikes Cathedral and Apartment Buildings

People in front of a damaged church at night.
A cathedral damaged in a Russian missile attack on Sunday in Odesa, Ukraine.Credit...Libkos/Associated Press

The civilian toll is rising in Odesa, the Ukrainian port city that has been under relentless attack by Russian forces in the past week after the Kremlin pulled out of an agreement that allowed for the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

One person died and 19 others, including 4 children, were injured in Russian missile strikes on Odesa overnight Sunday, according to Ukrainian officials. At least six residential buildings and an Orthodox cathedral were damaged in the attack. Dozens of cars were also damaged and many residents were left without power.

“There can be no excuse for Russian evil,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said about the attacks in a Telegram posting on Sunday. He added: “There will definitely be a retaliation.”

With its busy port, Odesa has long been a crucial economic link for Ukraine to the rest of the global economy. Even though the city had been subject to attacks earlier in the war, there had been a fleeting sense of normalcy because for almost a year it had been shipping out agricultural products despite a wartime blockade by Russia.

But that ended last week, after Russia said it was ending its participation in the Black Sea grain deal, an agreement that had helped stabilize food prices across the globe. Moscow has said the pact favored Ukraine.

In recent days, Russia has launched some of the war’s most furious attacks on Odesa, destroying grain that could have fed tens of thousands of people for a year. The strikes have also killed at least one other civilian and injured at least two others. The Kremlin has threatened more hostilities, saying it will treat any ships sailing around Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea as military targets.

On Saturday, Mr. Zelensky warned of the dire fallout of Russian actions in the Black Sea.

“Any destabilization in this region and the disruption of our export routes will mean problems with corresponding consequences for everyone in the world,” he said in his nightly address. Food prices could surge, he said.

The grain deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey about a year ago, helped stabilize food prices across the globe. But now, Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement could again threaten food security in several countries already reeling from multiple crises, especially in the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Zelensky is pushing for more aid from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Following a meeting Saturday with the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Zelensky said that the Ukraine-NATO Council, a new body that hopes to deepen the alliance between Ukraine and its allies, would soon hold a meeting about the situation in Odesa and the Black Sea.

In Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin on Sunday was scheduled to meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the Kremlin said in a statement. It would be one of the first public meetings for Mr. Putin since Mr. Lukashenko said he helped broker an agreement that led to the end of the short-lived mutiny by the Wagner militia.

Posted on 23 Jul 2023 08:52 link