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Smoke and fire seen after shelling in Odessa, Ukraine today. Petros Giannakouris
Black sea

Air strikes hit Ukraine's strategic port city of Odessa

Two loud explosions were heard in Odessa on the Black Sea early today and black smoke was seen rising above the city.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Apr 2022

AIR STRIKES ROCKED Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port of Odessa in the early hours today, AFP reporters said, but there were no casualties, according to the army.

The Russian defence ministry confirmed the strike.

“This morning, high-precision sea and air-based missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities for fuel and lubricants near the city of Odessa, from which fuel was supplied to a group of Ukrainian troops in the direction of Mykolaiv,” it said.

At least three huge columns of black smoke and flames rose into the sky over an industrial zone.

The rocket attacks came as Russian forces and appeared to be withdrawing from the country’s north after Kyiv warned that Moscow was trying to consolidate troops in the south.

Despite the rocket attacks, there were no casualties, said officer Vladislav Nazarov in a statement from the southern regional command that reiterated a ban on publishing the exact sites under fire or the extent of damage.

“The Odessa region is one of the enemy’s priority targets. The enemy is pursuing the sly tactic of attacking sensitive infrastructure.”

The city authorities had earlier said the attack caused several fires and some missiles had been shot down by Ukraine’s air defence systems

AFP reporters heard explosions in the southwestern city at around 6am (4am Irish time).

On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Russia was consolidating and preparing “powerful strikes” in the south, joining a chorus of Western assessments that Moscow’s troops were regrouping.

Odessa, a historic city of around one million people, is Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port and has escaped the worst of the fighting.

Ukraine’s whole eastern flank from Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, to the pro-Moscow enclaves of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbas region is occupied by Russian forces, with the exception of the besieged city of Mariupol.


With Mariupol, to the east of Odessa, squarely in Russia’s crosshairs, Ukraine insists it has gained a leg up elsewhere in the country, leading to troops retaking territory north of the capital, Kyiv, as Russian forces departed.

“Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that is allowing us to foil the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities,” Zelenskyy said late yesterday.

However, inside Mariupol, which has been surrounded by Russian forces for more than a month and suffered by some of the war’s worst attacks, conditions remain dire and prospects for escape uncertain.

About 100,000 people are believed to remain in the Sea of Azov city, less than a quarter of its pre-war population of 430,000, and dire shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine persist.

Many still in Mariupol await fulfilment of promises to help them reach safety. Among those trying to get residents out was the International Committee of the Red Cross, which still had not reached the city yesterday, a day after local authorities said it had been blocked by Russian forces.

Mariupol is in the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian troops for eight years. Its capture would create an unbroken land corridor from Russia to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

As Ukrainian troops moved cautiously to retake territory north of Kyiv, the country and its Western allies said Russia is building strength in eastern Ukraine.

Where Russian troops recede, Ukraine said it will continue its attacks, shelling and targeting them as they pull out.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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