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Ukraine live briefing: At least one killed, 19 injured after missiles rain down on Odessa



Rescuers stand in front of residential buildings damaged during Russian missile strikes in Odessa, Ukraine on Sunday. (Stringer/Reuters)

Russia struck Odessa with a barrage of missiles overnight — the fifth day of attacks in a week for the embattled port city — killing one civilian and injuring 19 others, including four children, Ukrainian officials said early Sunday. The strikes destroyed a historic cathedral in the city and damaged residential buildings, officials added. Russia has continuously bombed Odessa, home to Ukraine’s biggest port, since backing out of a deal to allow the export of Ukrainian grain to the rest of the world.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Crimean Bridge a target that must be “neutralized,” ratcheting up tensions after Kyiv launched an assault on the structure last week. The attack on the bridge killed two people and temporarily shut down its roadway, which links the peninsula to Russia.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it struck Odessa overnight, claiming without providing evidence that the attack was designed to target Ukrainian forces preparing attacks against Russia. The Russian armed forces used long-range sea and air-launched precision-guided weapons to strike areas where unmanned boats meant for attacks against Russian territory were being prepared and manufactured, said Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, at a news briefing Sunday.

Zelensky said Ukraine would retaliate against Russian attacks in Odessa. Photos and footage posted by Ukrainian authorities on Telegram showed piles of rubble, overturned cars and blown-out roofs in the city, as well as shattered religious murals at the destroyed Transfiguration Cathedral, a religious structure with more than 200 years of history that was previously destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1936.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said the Odessa attack had “terrible costs.” Bridget A. Brink said that the city, “a world heritage site and a vital port for global food security,” was left with “a destroyed cathedral, ruined homes, and burning grain silos” following the overnight strike.

One person was killed by Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine’s armed forces said. The attacks were aimed at a residential area and an administrative building, they said.

Zelensky discussed steps with NATO’s secretary general to unblock grain export routes outlined in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the pact that Russia pulled out of last week, Ukraine’s president said in his evening address. Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also discussed Ukraine’s “fastest possible accession to NATO,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko will meet on Sunday to discuss their nations’ “strategic partnership,” the Kremlin said, two days after Putin warned that any attack against the neighboring state would also be considered an attack against Moscow. The meeting is set to take place in Russia.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations are likely to “gain pace,” Zelensky said during a virtual appearance at the Aspen Security Forum, as Ukrainian forces try to retake ground from Russian troops. “We are already going through some mines’ locations and we are demining these areas,” he said.

Radar imagery appears to show newly arrived vehicles and equipment in Belarus at a rumored base for fighters from the Wagner Group. The images, provided to The Washington Post by Maxar Technologies and Umbra, show that “dozens, if not hundreds, of vehicles and equipment have recently arrived at the facility,” according to Stephen Wood, senior director at Maxar. The images show an increase in materiel compared with previous imagery gathered on July 16.

A drone attack in Crimea caused an explosion at an ammunition depot, prompting evacuation orders, Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed head of Crimea, said Saturday. Aksyonov blamed the explosion on Ukraine, and the Ukrainian armed forces later claimed they had destroyed oil and ammunition depots.

“Many may die” from starvation without an active Black Sea grain deal in place, said U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths. He also warned of a spike in global food prices and financial devastation for Ukrainian farmers. “Some will go hungry, some will starve, many may die as a result of these decisions,” he said.

A Russian official condemned Ukraine and the United States after the death of a war correspondent from Russia’s RIA state news agency. In a Telegram post, Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, accused Ukraine of using cluster munitions and implied the United States was also to blame. Human Rights Watch has previously said that Russia and Ukraine were using cluster munitions during the war.

President Biden elevated CIA Director William J. Burns to his Cabinet, a symbolic move that reflects the central role the spy chief has played in the administration’s foreign policy, The Post’s Shane Harris reports.

Ukraine is littered with explosives. It will take decades to make it safe. In a year and a half of conflict, Ukraine’s heartland has been transformed into patches of wasteland riddled with danger. Explosive materials, artillery shells, undetonated bombs or rockets and land mines have contaminated a swath of land roughly the size of Florida or Uruguay. Undoing it could take hundreds of years and billions of dollars in what is now the most mined country in the world, Eve Sampson and Samuel Granados write.

“The sheer quantity of ordnance in Ukraine is just unprecedented in the last 30 years. There’s nothing like it,” said Greg Crowther, the director of programs for the Mines Advisory Group.

Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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