Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island Thursday, potentially easing the threat to the vital Ukrainian port city of Odesa, but kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.
The Kremlin portrayed the pullout from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture.” But Ukraine’s military claimed it forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats following a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes. The exact number of troops was not disclosed.
In contrast, however, Ukrainian forces were desperately hanging on against Russia’s superior firepower in the city of Lysychansk. Russian artillery shelled from different directions while the Russian army approached from several sides, regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukrainian television.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky credited Ukrainian forces for pushing Russia out of Snake Island, but signaled difficulties in the Donbas region.
Russian missiles later struck a nine-story apartment building and a resort facility near Odesa, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin called a “special military operation” to rid the country of far-right nationalists and ensure Russian security.
Here are the latest updates:
Russian missile strike kills 10 in Odesa
A Russian missile struck a nine-story apartment building in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 10 people, a local official said.
“The number of dead as a result of a strike on a multi-story apartment building has now risen to 10,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration said on his Telegram channel.
Bratchuk also told Ukrainian state television that seven people have been wounded, including three children. – Reuters
Indonesia president addresses food crisis during peace mission
Indonesia’s president ended a trip to Ukraine and Russia saying he hoped for progress reintegrating global food and fertiliser supply lines disrupted by the conflict, and offered to be a diplomatic bridge between the two nations.
President Joko Widodo, who is the G20 president this year, was speaking at a news conference alongside his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after a bilateral meeting in Moscow on Thursday.
His trip followed a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“I really appreciate President Putin who said earlier that he will provide security guarantee for food and fertiliser supplies from both Russia and Ukraine. This is good news,” said the Indonesian president, who is widely known as Jokowi.
“For the sake of humanity, I also support the United Nations’ efforts to reintegrate Russian food and fertiliser commodities and Ukrainian food commodities to re-enter the world supply chain,” he said. – AP
Zelensky celebrates retaking of Snake Island
Ukraine on Friday celebrated driving Russian forces from the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island while struggling to hold off intense assaults in the eastern industrial city of Lysychansk.
Russia said on Thursday it had decided to withdraw from Snake Island as a “gesture of goodwill” to show Moscow was not obstructing U. N. attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grains to be shipped from Ukraine.
Ukraine said it had driven Russian forces off the outcrop after an artillery and missile assault, with President Volodymyr Zelensky hailing the strategic win.
“It does not yet guarantee security. It does not yet ensure that the enemy will not come back,” he said in his nightly video address. “But this significantly limits the actions of the occupiers. Step by step, we will push them back from our sea, our land and our sky.” – Reuters
NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.
During a summit in Madrid, the Western military alliance described a world plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and facing myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change.
NATO said that China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warned of its close ties with Moscow.
China shot back that NATO was a source of instability and vowed to defend its interests. “Since NATO positions China as a systemic challenge,’ we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China’s interests, we will make firm and strong responses,” its statement said. – AP
Russian troops have abandoned their positions on a captured Ukrainian island, a major setback to their invasion effort that weakens their blockade of Ukraine’s ports, defence officials said on Thursday.
The news from the Black Sea came as NATO leaders wrapped up their summit in Madrid, intent on demonstrating their unity and determination to back up Kyiv with advanced weapons in the face of Moscow’s assault. – AFP
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