Sunday, 03 March 2024 04:21

What to know after Day 738 of Russia-Ukraine war

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WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Eight killed in Russian drone attack on Odesa, Ukraine says

A Russian drone attack whose multiple victims included an infant and a two-year-old on Saturday could have been avoided if Ukraine was not facing delays to weapons supplies, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Seven Western leaders have signed 10-year security agreements with Ukraine in the last two months as Kyiv fights to plug a big hole in stockpiles with a vital package of U.S. military assistance stuck in Congress and facing months of Republican opposition.

"When lives are lost, and partners are simply playing internal political games or disputes, limiting our defence, it's impossible to understand," Zelenskiy said.

As emergency services posted images of bodies being pulled from the rubble of an apartment block in the southern port city of Odesa, he also used his nightly video address to deliver a strong message to his new army chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, who replaced Valeriy Zaluzhnyi in a shakeup last month.

"The commander-in-chief has carte blanche for personnel changes in the army, in the headquarters, for any changes," Zelenskiy said. He said he expected a "detailed report and specific proposals for further changes" from Syrskyi when he returns from the front early in the week.

Rescue workers pulled eight bodies out of the rubble and were still searching for more late in the night. Zelenskiy said earlier that an Iranian-supplied Shahed drone destroyed 18 apartments in a single apartment block.

Oleh Kiper, the regional governor, said the adults killed included three men aged 35, 40 and 54, and two women aged 31 and 73. Eight people were wounded, including a three-year-old girl.

Zelenskiy said Russian attacks using Iranian-supplied Shahed drones "make no military sense" and were intended only to kill and intimidate.

"The world knows that terror can be opposed," he said. "Delaying the supply of weapons to Ukraine, missile defence systems to protect our people, leads, unfortunately, to such losses."

Zelenskiy identified the youngest victims of the attack as four-month-old Tymofiy and Mark, aged two.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the infant was found dead alongside his mother and posted a photograph of a rescue worker next to a bloodied blanket, a baby's arm visible on one side and an adult arm extending out the other.

Smoke poured from rubble strewn across the ground where the drone had ripped a chunk several storeys high out of the building.

"My husband quickly ran out to help people ... then I saw people running out and I understood people had died in there," said Svitlana Tkachenko, who lives in a neighbouring building.

Clothes and furniture were scattered in the ruined mass of concrete and steel hanging off the side of the apartment block.

Ukraine's State Emergencies Service posted photos including of a dead toddler being placed in a body bag by rescuers.

"This is impossible to forget. This is impossible to forgive," it said in a statement. It said five people, including a child, had been rescued alive.

Several thousand long-range, winged, Shahed drones have been fired at targets inside Ukraine since Moscow's full-scale invasion two years ago.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Drone attack hits St. Petersburg apartment block

A powerful blast rocked the Russian city of St. Petersburg early on Saturday when a drone crashed into an apartment block, local media have reported. City authorities have confirmed “an incident” took place, likely caused by a UAV.

Local outlet Fontanka said the explosion occurred in the northern part of the city, and that the facade of a residential building was “seriously damaged.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Alexandr Beglov initially declined to say whether it was a drone strike. However, the local department of the National Guard later said that the building had been damaged by what appeared to be a UAV, and that around 100 people had been evacuated.

“There have been no casualties. The balcony windows of two buildings were partially damaged. Residents of the affected apartments have been evacuated,” Beglov wrote on Telegram, adding that police and emergency services were working at the scene.

The press service of the St. Petersburg Health Committee later reported that six people sought medical help following the incident.

Videos from the scene shared by both Baza and Mash showed a yard strewn with debris, with emergency services working at the scene.

Meanwhile, another clip shared by Mash depicts the moment the drone apparently hit the building. The sound of a humming engine can be heard, followed by a loud bang. The outlet suggested that the drone could have been heading for a nearby oil facility, less than 1km away.

Mash later reported that local residents had been warned of a second possible incoming strike, and that that all communications in the area were being blocked.

Local outlet 47news.ru also reported that two drones had been sighted in the St. Petersburg area, suggesting that another UAV may have crashed in the Vsevolzhsky district, to the east of the city.

St. Petersburg and its environs have recently been targeted by Ukrainian drone attacks despite the city being located hundreds of kilometers from the frontline.

 

Reuters/RT

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