Russian hypersonic missiles have hit Odesa again, with a shopping mall and two hotels seeing the most damage.
Sergey Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration, noted that three Kinzhal missiles were fired from a plane, hitting a “tourist infrastructure target”, CNN reported.
The attack on Monday is the latest in a series of airstrikes that Russia has carried out on the strategic Black Sea port city. Odesa saw cruise missiles hit a residential area in April, killing a three-month-old baby among six others, as Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed the attack on Telegram, writing “Nothing is sacred. Evil will be punished.”
Then again, on the last day of April, news emerged that Russian missile strikes had destroyed a newly constructed runway in the southern Ukrainian city. Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said Russia had used a Bastion missile, which was launched from Crimea. Meanwhile, mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov, said on Facebook “Thanks to the new runway we were expecting a colossal influx of tourists from all over the world. Instead, we got a rocket strike”, continuing, “But Odesa is not a city which surrenders to difficulties. We will absolutely restore the runway after our victory and even more tourists will come to us.”
Odesa also saw renewed attacks a few days back, after Ukrainian forces claimed that their drone had sunk a second Russian warship in the Black Sea.
The barrage of strikes on Odesa is reminiscent of the protracted assault on Mariupol, which saw Russian airstrikes target civilian structures including a maternity ward and a drama theatre, among others. Ultimately, Moscow declared it had “liberated” the Azov Sea port city, apart from a few civilians who were cooped up with the remaining Ukrainian defence forces at the Azovstal steel plant.
Now, all civilians have been evacuated, as per reports, and Russia has a chance to establish its territorial continuity via a critical corridor connecting Donbas to Crimea, via Mariupol. While gaining control of Mariupol essentially gives Russia control over the Azov Sea, if President Vladimir Putin’s troops were to take Odesa as well, they’d control the Black Sea too, which would have strategic military and trade benefits for Russia.