Odessa Cathedral was badly damaged by Russia’s bombing of a port city

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A historic cathedral, architectural monuments and residential buildings in Odessa were severely damaged early Sunday as Russian forces continued to bombard the Ukrainian city with missiles.

“Another night attack by non-humans,” Oleg Kipper, the governor of Odessa, said, adding that one person was killed and 19 others, including three children, were wounded.

Kiev and its allies say the campaign of air strikes is aimed at banning sea grain exports from the Black Sea port city to world markets and destroying Ukrainian culture.

Kipper said at least 25 architectural monuments were damaged by the Russian strikes, including 12 historic buildings “created by great architects” in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Ukrainian Air Force said it had intercepted nine of the 19 missiles aimed at the once multi-ethnic, multi-ethnic city of one million people.

Missiles against peaceful cities, against residential buildings, a cathedral. . . “There can be no excuse for Russian evil,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter.

Pictures and videos released by Ukrainian officials showed the roof of the Transfiguration Cathedral partially collapsed, the interior catching fire and its altar destroyed, though its dome and clock tower remained standing.

Ukrainian television showed footage of local residents rushing to rescue icons and other religious artifacts from the building, part of a following linked to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Along with other southern coastal cities, Odessa has been bombarded relentlessly by strikes for nearly a week after Russia withdrew from a UN-brokered deal agreed last summer that allowed grain exports during its all-out invasion of Ukraine.

Previous attacks have destroyed regional ports and grain silos, but Sunday’s strikes hit the historic city of Odessa hard, which was named a world heritage site by UNESCO in January.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, wrote on Twitter: “Ongoing Russian missile terrorism over UNESCO-protected Odessa constitutes yet another war crime by the Kremlin, as it also destroys the main Orthodox cathedral – a world heritage site.”

He added, “Russia has already destroyed hundreds of cultural sites, trying to destroy Ukraine.”

The Transfiguration Cathedral was originally built in the early 19th century as the main church in the southern regions of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Empire and was called “New Russia” – a term used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify his invasion to reclaim what he claims are historic Russian lands.

The original cathedral was demolished in 1936 under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin but was rebuilt between 1999 and 2003 under an independent Ukraine.

“There will certainly be a revenge of the Russian terrorists for Odessa,” said Zelensky, a day after vowing that his military’s counteroffensive last month would soon “increase in pace.”

So far, Ukrainian forces have made small gains in liberating the Russian-occupied eastern and southern regions, which account for about 18 percent of the country’s territory.

The Russian Ministry of Defense denied that one of its missiles or its wreckage had hit the Transfiguration Cathedral, insisting that the church was hit by a “falling Ukrainian anti-aircraft guided missile”.

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