Ukraine: According to Kiev, the cathedral was damaged by the Russian attack on Odessa

by Irina Nazarchuk

ODESSA, Ukraine (Reuters) – A Russian airstrike on the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine killed one, injured about 20 and severely damaged the city’s iconic cathedral, Ukrainian officials said.

“Odessa: a new night attack by demons,” wrote the region’s governor, Oleh Kiper, on the Telegram messaging application.

One person was killed and 19 others, including four children, were injured in the missile attacks, which also destroyed six houses and residential buildings. Fourteen people were admitted to the hospital.

The Odessa Military Administration said that the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, also known as the Transfiguration Cathedral, was badly damaged. It is the largest religious building in the city, located in the historic center and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cathedral’s archbishop, Andrei Palchuk, told Reuters the fire, caused by a missile strike, affected only an area of ​​the building containing non-historic religious objects meant to be purchased by worshippers.

“When the right altar chapel – the holiest part of the cathedral – was attacked, a piece of the missile passed through the entire cathedral and struck the area where we display icons, candles and books for purchase,” he said.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the cathedral was “destroyed twice” by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

The cathedral, built in the early 19th century, was demolished in 1936 as part of Joseph Stalin’s anti-religious campaigns and rebuilt in 1991 when Ukraine gained independence from Moscow.

Parts of the building were destroyed and the floor was covered with debris. Many local residents came to help clear the debris.

The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged that the attacks targeted the area, but ruled out any attack on the cathedral, saying that the building was likely hit by a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile.

Russia has repeatedly attacked Odessa with missiles and drones since withdrawing from an agreement on Ukrainian grain exports through Black Sea ports. Under this agreement with Turkey and the United Nations, the port of Odessa was the departure point for grain leaving Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Sunday’s attack and promised retaliation.

He said on Twitter, “There is no excuse for Russian evil. As always, this evil will fail. And there will certainly be retribution for the Russian terrorists in Odessa. They will feel this retribution.”

Italian Council President Giorgia Meloni issued a statement condemning the attack and offered her country’s help in rebuilding the cathedral.

“The Russian aggressors are destroying grain warehouses, depriving millions of hungry people of food. They are destroying our European civilization and its sacred symbols,” he said.

In its daily report, the Russian Defense Ministry said it struck targets in the Odessa region “where terrorist attacks were being prepared” and that all targets were destroyed.

The ministry also assured that Ukrainian reports of a Russian attack on the cathedral were false and that its targets in Odessa were “at a safe distance” from the cathedral complex. He said that the “probable cause” of the damage to the cathedral was a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile.

(Reporting by Irina Nazarchuk in Odessa, Max Hunder in Kiev, Felix Light and Keith Weir in London, Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Writing by Max Hunder; French edition by Claude Chendjou)

Add a Comment