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Odessa shaken by explosions;  Russia calls for strikes against oil refinery and fuel depots

Odessa has long been seen as a target for the Russian military as it is an economically vital port, but with Moscow’s ground forces unable to advance beyond Mykolaiv, some 70 miles to the east , Odessa was largely spared the attacks. Local businesses and even the zoo reopened last week.

British Ministry of Defense noted Sunday that the Russian Navy is strategically blocking the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov to prevent Ukraine from rearming. In another battered port city, Mariupol, Ukrainians will also face “tough” fighting, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned, as Moscow battles for a strategic victory that would free up thousands of troops to fight elsewhere.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that high-precision sea and air missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storage facilities. The claim could not immediately be independently verified by The Washington Post.

Ukrainian officials said the fire had been put out but the depot had been destroyed and “could no longer operate” after Sunday’s attack.

In a statement posted on Telegram on Sunday morning, the Odessa City Council said the city was attacked from the air and “some missiles were shot down by air defense”. Fires were reported in some areas and residents were asked to close their windows and stay away while emergency responders carried out their work.

Fuel depots across the country have been widely targeted by Russia since President Putin’s invasion in late February.

Last week in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Russian missiles “completely destroyed” a fuel depot, according to Ukrainian officials. Russia also targeted an oil depot in Dnipro, the Kyiv Independent reported on March 30.

Russia has accused Ukraine of targeting a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod – an allegation Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has neither confirmed nor denied.

“Fortunately, no one was injured, houses were damaged, windows were broken, roofs were destroyed,” Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov told public broadcaster Suspilne. “The municipal services are already on the site. We will provide all necessary assistance to those whose homes are damaged. The situation is under control. »

Hours earlier, President Zelensky had made a moving appeal to Western nations to send more missile defense systems and aircraft to guard against the aerial bombardment of Moscow: “Every Russian missile that has hit our cities and every bomb that was dropped on our people, our children, will be a black mark in the history of those who made that decision – the decision whether or not to help Ukraine with modern weapons.

And if the southern port city of Mariupol – where Moscow has already caused massive destruction and deprivation – falls, “it could free up Russian logistics and manpower along the southern axis of advance.” wrote Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Pannett reported from Sydney, Timsit and Hassan reported from London. Vladyslav Maslov contributed reporting in Odessa.


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