ODESA – Five civilians died and 18 were wounded in Russian missile strikes on the southern port city of Odesa, according to a senior Ukrainian official, as another official denounced them as “Easter gifts from Putin.”
“Five Ukrainian citizens were killed and 18 wounded,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said in a statement. “These are only those who were found. And most likely, there will be more.”
Yermak said one of the dead was a 3-month-old baby, adding: “A child who had to celebrate his first Easter with his parents. Nothing is sacred. Absolutely. Evil will be punished.” Many Ukrainians celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, with Easter Sunday falling this year on April 24. Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the minister of internal affairs of Ukraine, said Russian forces launched at least six cruise missiles at Odesa.
“City residents heard the blasts in different districts of the city. These were the rockets strikes as well as the work of our air-defense system,” he said.
Gerashchenko added that at least one missile had landed and exploded, residential buildings were hit and one person was burned inside their car in the yard of one of the buildings. In a statement on Telegram, Odesa City Council Deputy Petro Obukhov called the missile strikes “Easter gifts from Putin.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the strikes, saying, “The only aim of Russian missile strikes on Odesa is terror. Russia must be designated a state sponsor of terrorism and treated accordingly. No business, no contacts, no cultural projects. We need a wall between civilization and barbarians striking peaceful cities with missiles.”
Ukrainian officials have warned of potential Russian attacks during Easter holiday observances in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently claimed Russian forces have “liberated” the Azov Sea port of Mariupol, although Ukrainian defenders are holding out in a massive steel works in the city.
Ukraine’s Air Command South said in a separate statement that missiles also struck a military facility and were launched by Russian bombers:
“Today … the air defense group of the South Air Command conducted combat operations to destroy enemy cruise missiles launched by Russia’s TU-95 strategic aircraft from the Caspian Sea,” the statement said. “During the engagement, warriors of anti-aircraft missile units destroyed two enemy cruise missiles (preliminary X555 or X101), which struck the city of Odesa and two operational-tactical level UAVs, which presumably corrected the trajectory of cruise missiles and placed active obstacles to the air-defense system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”