Leaders Targeted: Missile Scare in Odesa

The strike resulted in the loss of five lives, with numerous others sustaining injuries…reports Asian Lite News

A Russian missile struck close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis while they were visiting the Black Sea port city of Odesa on Wednesday, CNN reported.

The shocking incident unfolded with the group feeling the impact of the strike and witnessing a disconcerting “mushroom cloud” of smoke, placing the location of the explosion merely 500 meters from the convoy.

The strike resulted in the loss of five lives, with numerous others sustaining injuries, as reported by Dmytro Pletenchuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Navy, however, both Zelenskyy and Mitsotakis emerged unscathed despite the proximity of the missile explosion, according to CNN.

Zelenskyy, known for his daring trips to the front lines and hosting numerous world leaders amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, faced what could be considered one of his closest calls yet.

Expressing the intensity of the situation, Zelenskyy, who was close enough to witness and hear the strike, emphasised the indiscriminate nature of the attacks.

“We saw this strike today. You can see who we are dealing with; they don’t care where they strike,” he declared solemnly from Odesa. The gravity of the situation was underscored by Mitsotakis, the leader of a NATO member state, acknowledging the dangers inherent in such visits and the potential global repercussions of the escalating conflict.

Reflecting on the near-miss, Zelenskyy called for a robust air defence system to safeguard against future attacks. “We need to defend ourselves first and foremost. The best way to do that is with an air defence system,” he asserted, emphasising the urgency of bolstering the nation’s defences.

Mitsotakis shared his account of the incident, recounting a tour of the beleaguered southern city provided by Zelenskyy. The city, ravaged by months of Russian strikes, bore witness to yet another reminder of the ongoing war.

“Shortly after, as we were getting into our cars, we heard a big explosion,” Mitsotakis stated, acknowledging the stark reality that war isn’t confined to the front lines but impacts innocent civilians daily, as reported by CNN.

Strategically located at the mouth of the Danube River, Odesa holds crucial importance for Ukraine’s grain exports, a target that Russia has persistently sought to disrupt since the onset of its invasion. Additionally, Odesa serves as the main base for Ukraine’s navy, making it a focal point in the conflict.

The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the missile strike at 11:40 am (Moscow time), targeting a hangar in the industrial port district where preparations for the combat use of unmanned boats were underway.

While Russia’s intensified strikes on the region have raised concerns, Saturday’s drone attack on an apartment block in Odesa resulted in the tragic loss of 12 lives, including five children. Zelenskyy, in response to these incidents, emphasised the critical need for reinforcing the country’s air defences, urging the international community to provide additional support.

As the situation escalated, the White House seized on the opportunity to press for urgent military assistance to Ukraine. With President Joe Biden’s USD60 billion aid request stalled, a National Security Council spokesperson highlighted the strike as another stark reminder of Russia’s relentless attacks, urging House Speaker Mike Johnson to expedite a vote on the aid package.

European Council President Charles Michel condemned the strike as a manifestation of Russia’s “cowardly tactics,” asserting that they were “below even the Kremlin’s playbook.” Michel, who himself experienced the impact of Russian aggression in Odesa back in May 2022, emphasised the gravity of the situation, calling for a united front against Russia’s belligerence, as reported by CNN. (ANI)


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