February 8, 2023

Odessa had a population of more than 1 million before the February 24 invasion that Russia calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” its smaller neighbor.

Kiev says Russia launched hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones at targets in Ukraine, describing the attacks as war crimes because of their devastating effect on civilian life. Moscow says its attacks are militarily legitimate and do not target civilians.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine said that two power stations in the Odessa region have been hit by Shahed-136 drones.

The Ukrainian military said on Facebook that 15 drones had been launched against targets in the southern regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv, and 10 had been shot down.

Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow. Kiev and its Western allies say that is a lie.

Britain’s defense ministry said on Saturday it believes Iran’s military aid to Russia is likely to increase in the coming months, including possible ballistic missile deliveries.

The United States announced new military aid to Ukraine and pledged to cut Russian ties with Iran, with a British envoy saying Moscow was seeking hundreds of ballistic missiles and offering unprecedented military support in return.

Ukraine attacked occupied Melitopol in the country’s southeast on Saturday night, Russian-installed and exiled Ukrainian authorities said from the strategically located city.

Pro-Moscow authorities said a rocket attack killed two people and injured 10, while the exiled mayor said dozens of “invaders” were killed. Reuters could not independently verify reports of the attacks or deaths.

“Air defense systems destroyed two missiles, four reached their target,” Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, told the Telegram messaging app.

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He said a “recreation center” where people were dining was destroyed in the Ukrainian attack with HIMARS missiles.

The exiled mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said on his Telegram channel that the attack hit a church that had been turned into a meeting place by the Russians.


Vladimir Rogov, another Moscow-installed official in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia, said a major fire caused by the strike engulfed the recreation center. He posted a video of a building in flames.

Multiple HIMARS rocket launchers were among Ukraine’s most effective weapons of the war, firing with precision at hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts. On Friday, the United States said it would send more aid to Kiev to bolster air defenses and defeat drones.

An adviser to Zelensky, Oleksiy Arestovych, said Melitopol, a major industrial and transportation center occupied by Russia since March, is key to the defense of the south.

“All logistics connecting the Russian armed forces in the eastern part of the Kherson region and all the way to the Russian border at Mariupol will pass through this road,” Arestovych said in a video interview posted on social media. “If Melitopol falls, the whole line of defense up to Kherson will collapse. Ukrainian troops will be given a direct route to Crimea.”


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