Day 515 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russians Destroyed the Largest Orthodox Church in Odesa

World » UKRAINE | July 23, 2023, Sunday // 12:35
Bulgaria: Day 515 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russians Destroyed the Largest Orthodox Church in Odesa

Day 515 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • The largest Orthodox church in Odesa was destroyed in a Russian missile attack
  • British intelligence: The taboo on criticism of Putin has weakened significantly
  • Demining Ukraine will take centuries

The largest Orthodox church in Odesa was destroyed in a Russian missile attack

A Russian missile has severely damaged the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa, the city's largest Russian-linked church, Ukrainian authorities said. According to church officials, half of the roof has collapsed and photos and videos show the devastation inside the building and outside.

At least one person was killed and at least 19 were injured in the attack, which, according to photos released by agencies and local authorities, also affected residential areas. A total of 14 people are in hospital, several residential buildings have been destroyed.

The data is from the manager of the regional military administration, Oleg Kiper. "Odesa: another night attack of the monsters," he wrote earlier. Russian armed forces have been striking the southern Ukrainian city in the last days after Moscow announced its withdrawal from a deal to export Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea. Today's attack also destroyed port infrastructure, along with dozens of cars.

Russia did not comment on the specific information about the cathedral, but in a briefing of the Ministry of Defense, the official representative of the department, Igor Konashenkov, stated that high-precision weapons were used to target objects where "terrorist acts" were being prepared against Russia using "unmanned cutters" (i.e. marine drones). "There were foreign mercenaries in the hit sites. All targets planned for the strike have been destroyed," he says.

With its actions, Russia, which has warned that it will consider vessels entering the country's ports as military targets, is creating a de facto blockade, as it operated before the grain corridor deal last year. At the same time, these missile attacks follow the attack on the Crimean bridge, which caused serious damage to the main link between the annexed Crimea and the internationally recognized territory of Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin personally vowed to respond to the attack before the strikes began.

According to both Russian and Ukrainian sources, precisely marine drones (the mentioned unmanned boats) were used against the Crimean bridge.

The cathedral, which is part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate, was hit by one of the rockets. Created in 1795, it was closed and later destroyed during the Soviet era and only at the beginning of the century was it rebuilt in the previous place. In 2010, the Russian Patriarch Kirill arrived for its consecration.

It is also the second largest Christian church in Ukraine, although most Ukrainians are part of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was established a few years ago.

The city administration spoke of damage to the Kasperov Icon of the Mother of God, the patron saint of Odesa and associated by many believers with the city's survival during the blockade by the British fleet in the Crimean War (1853-1856).

"The destruction is colossal... half of the cathedral is without a roof," archdeacon Andrii Palchuk told Suspilne public media.

According to the Operational Command "South", five types of missiles were used in the attack on Odesa, including "Kalibr", "Iskander" and others. Most were destroyed according to the Ukrainian army.

British intelligence: The taboo on criticism of Putin has weakened significantly

The arrest of Russian military blogger Igor Girkin is likely to anger some of the Russian military and other military bloggers who support Russia's war in Ukraine, according to the latest British intelligence figures cited by DPA.

Girkin, a former intelligence officer and leading nationalist war blogger, was arrested for extremism yesterday.

"Girkin has long criticized the behavior of the Russian Ministry of Defense during the war. In recent days, however, his comments have turned into a direct criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies during his time in power," the island's intelligence believes.

Girkin's arrest is likely to spark anger among those who largely regard the blogger as an astute military analyst and patriot, the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement. "He played an important role in Russia's war in Donbas since 2014 and spent months on the front line in 2022," the ministry added.

Although Girkin is not an ally of the private military company Wagner, he may have been willing to push the boundaries of public criticism only in the context of the failed rebellion of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in June 2023. The taboo on open criticism of the Putin regime has significantly weakened, London says.

Ultranationalist Girkin, known by his battle name Igor Strelkov, was arrested after calling for tougher action against Ukraine under the Russian invasion.

Demining Ukraine will take centuries

For a year and a half of the war, mines, along with bombs and artillery and other unexploded ordnance, "infected" the territory of Ukraine, comparable in area to the American state of Florida or the country of Uruguay. Demining could take hundreds of years and cost billions of dollars, writes The Washington Post, quoted by UNIAN.

Russia has mined the front line in anticipation of an ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive and has widely used banned landmines in the past. Human Rights Watch investigations found that Russian troops used at least 13 types of anti-personnel mines, as well as booby traps, the publication said.

According to a recent report by the analytical center GLOBSEC, about 30% of Ukraine, more than 107 thousand square kilometers, is contaminated with explosives. This makes the country more polluted than the most mined countries in the world such as Afghanistan or Syria.

GLOBSEC estimates that a sapper can clear 15 to 25 square meters per day, depending on the terrain and the concentration of explosives. Ukraine's contaminated territory is so vast that some experts estimate that the 500 demining teams now working would take 757 years to clear the land.

Moreover, demining is not only a slow but also an expensive process. The World Bank estimates that demining Ukraine will cost between and per square meter - about .4 billion over the next 10 years. This year alone, the US granted Ukraine million for the purpose.

The explosives have already caused significant damage. From the start of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022 to July 2023, the UN recorded 298 civilian deaths from explosive ordnance (22 dead children), 632 civilians were injured. The international demining organization HALO Trust has recorded more than 2,300 munitions incidents requiring clearance, but the number is believed to be a significant underestimate.

The Ukrainian fighters admitted that the dense mining of the territory by the occupiers creates serious obstacles to an advance. The Russians' heavily mined defensive line, which they have been building for months, is causing casualties and destroying battle tanks and infantry vehicles supplied to Ukraine by partners. Military medics working on the front lines say landmine injuries are now among the most common wounds on the frontline.

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, odesa, Putin

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