Two people were killed and grain storage facilities destroyed in a Russian rocket and drone attack on Odesa, which Ukraine called a “pathetic attempt at retaliation” for a missile strike on occupied Crimea that allegedly killed dozens of Russian officers, including the commander of the Kremlin’s Black Sea fleet.
Heavy fighting continued as Kyiv’s forces tried to extend their slow advance near the occupied eastern city of Bakhmut and in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced that his country had received its first delivery of Abrams tanks from the United States.
Ukraine said its air defence units shot down all 19 explosive drones and 11 of 14 missiles launched by Russia in the early hours of Monday, but port facilities, grain silos and an empty landmark hotel by the Black Sea in Odesa were hit by rockets and falling debris.
Later in the day, Ukraine said at least three people were killed and two injured in the town of Beryslav and a nearby village in the southeastern Kherson region when Russian warplanes dropped several air-launched bombs on the area.
Ukraine’s defence ministry called the attack on Odesa “a pathetic attempt at retaliation for our successful hit on the Russian navy headquarters in Sevastopol,” referring to a missile strike on Friday on the building in the main port of occupied Crimea.
“After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be repaired,” Ukraine’s special forces said in a statement on social media.
Moscow has declined to comment on Ukraine’s claims, but said on Friday that the attack resulted only in one person going “missing”. It also said that just one missile had hit its target and five were shot down, but video emerged later showing the building already on fire when one missile scored a direct hit.
After returning home from a visit to the US and Canada to shore up support for Ukraine and seek new arms supplies, Mr Zelenskiy announced that the first Abrams tanks were “already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades.” Kyiv expects to receive 31 Abrams, as well as dozens of other western-made tanks from other allies.
Mr Zelenskiy hailed what he called “a historic decision by the United States to jointly produce weapons and defence systems” with Ukraine, including air defence equipment.
“This is something that was an absolute fantasy until recently. But it will become a reality… And this is the new quality of Ukraine’s defence industry - much more powerful. And this is also the economy. Protection for our cities. Enterprises, new jobs for both our peoples – for Ukrainians and Americans,” he added.
Russia insists that the battlefield situation is under control, that Ukraine has made no important gains – and has suffered grave losses - in a counteroffensive that began in June, and that it only targets sites of military significance with its air attacks.
The Kremlin said on Monday it was “outrageous” that during Mr Zelenskiy’s visit to Canada, its parliament applauded a Ukrainian man who served in a Nazi Waffen SS unit in the second World War.
Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s lower house of parliament, introduced Yaroslav Hunka (98) to the chamber as a “Ukrainian hero” before later offering his “deepest apologies” following complaints from Jewish groups.
Mr Hunka served in the so-called Galicia division of the Waffen SS, which has been accused of involvement in mass killings of Polish and Jewish civilians at a time when some Ukrainians fought alongside the Nazis in the hope of securing independence from the Soviet Union.