Russia fires barrage of hypersonic missiles at Odesa after celebrating patriotic holiday

Latest political developments

  • The head of the UN human rights monitoring mission said the death toll in Ukraine is likely considerably higher than the official number, which sits at 3,381 civilians killed.

  • The World Health Organization estimates at least 3,000 people have died in Ukraine because they were unable to access treatments for chronic diseases.

  • Ukrainian, British and American officials warn Russia’s stock of precision weapons is being used up, which means the country may have to resort to more imprecise rockets, potentially causing more civilian deaths.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron and the Hungarian prime minister are expected to discuss a potential European Union ban on oil imports from Russia on Tuesday. 

Updates from the ground on Day 76 of the war

  • The bodies of 44 civilians were found in the rubble of a building destroyed by Russia in March, in Izyum, in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

  • The Ukrainian military said Russia fired seven missiles at the port city of Odesa, hitting a shopping centre and a warehouse and killing one person. 

  • Intense fighting continues in Ukraine’s east, where Russia has refocused its efforts.

  • Ukrainian troops are making a final stand at a steel plant in Mariupol, the last remaining stronghold in the strategic port city of Mariupol. 

Russia attacks with ‘the dagger’

Onlookers stand near a destroyed building on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Russian forces fired on the town, after Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his country’s biggest patriotic holiday on Monday. (Max Pshybyshevsky/The Associated Press)

A barrage of attacks slammed Ukraine’s strategically placed port city of Odesa after Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his country’s biggest patriotic holiday on Monday without being able to boast of any major battlefield successes. 

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired seven missiles from the air at Odesa, hitting a shopping centre and a warehouse. One person was killed and five were wounded, according to the military.

The Center for Defence Strategies, a Ukrainian think-tank tracking the war, said that during the attack a Russian supersonic bomber fired three hypersonic missiles. It identified the weapons used as Kinzhal, or “Dagger,” hypersonic air-to-surface missiles.

The Kinzhal can fly at five times the speed of sound and has a range of 2,000 kilometres. Using advanced guided missiles allows Russia to fire from aircraft at a distance without being in Ukrainian air space and exposed to potential anti-aircraft fire.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian, British and American officials warn Russia is rapidly using up its stock of precision weapons and may not be able to quickly build more. That raises the risk of more imprecise rockets being used as the conflict grinds on, potentially resulting in more civilian deaths and other collateral damage.

44 found buried in the rubble

Ukrainian officials announced Tuesday that the bodies of 44 civilians had been found in the rubble of a five-storey building in the northeast, which was was destroyed in an attack weeks ago.

“This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!” Oleh Synehubov, the head of Kharkiv’s regional administration, said in a social media post announcing the deaths.

The building collapsed in March in Izyum in the Kharkiv region. The area has been under sustained Russian attack since the beginning of the war in late February.

UN says death toll considerably higher 

According to the latest update from the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 3,381 civilians have been killed and 3,680 injured in Ukraine since the invasion began at 4 a.m. on Feb. 24.

But the head of the UN rights monitoring mission said the death toll is believed to be considerably higher than official records show.

The World Health Organization’s European chief has also released sobering numbers, estimating that at least 3,000 people have died in the country as a result of lack of access to treatments for chronic diseases.

A child and her family who fled from Mariupol arrive at a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on Sunday. Thousands of Ukrainians continue to leave Russian-occupied areas. (Francisco Seco/The Associated Press)

So far, the global health agency has documented some 200 attacks in Ukraine on health-care facilities, and few hospitals are currently functioning.

In a speech, WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said that “40 per cent of households have at least one member in need of chronic treatment that they can no longer find, resulting in an estimated at least 3,000 premature avoidable deaths.”

Intense fighting continues in the east

Intense fighting rages on in Ukraine’s east, and Ukrainian defenders are still hold up at a steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol.

One of the Ukrainian fighters making a last stand at the steel plant said they were still defending the city.

A view shows an explosion at the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on Sunday. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Valeri Paditel, who heads the border guards in the Donetsk region, said the fighters were “doing everything to make those who defend the city in the future proud.”

The Ukrainian military warned Tuesday that Russia could target the country’s chemical industries. The claim wasn’t immediately explained in the report, but Russian shelling has previously targeted oil depots and other industrial sites during the war.

Grinding war is a village-by-village slog

Satellite photos showed intense fires in Russian-held territory in southern Ukraine on Monday. A cause for the fires wasn’t immediately clear. However, Planet Labs images showed thick smoke rising to the east of Vasylivka, a city flanked by nature preserves.

After unexpectedly fierce resistance forced the Kremlin to abandon its effort to storm Kyiv over a month ago, Moscow’s forces have concentrated on capturing the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial region.

But the fighting there has been a back-and-forth, village-by-village slog. Some analysts suggested Putin might declare the fighting a war, not just a “special military operation,” and order a nationwide mobilization and a call-up of reserves to fight an extended conflict.

WATCH | Putin justifies Ukraine invasion during Second World War victory celebrations:

Putin justifies Ukraine invasion during Second World War victory celebrations

Russian President Vladimir Putin used his country’s day of celebration commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany to justify the invasion of Ukraine. 2:29

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