Ukraine says Russian attack killed at least 21 in Odessa, US pledges $820 million more military aid

Russian rocket attacks on residential areas in a coastal town near the port city of Odessa killed at least 21 people on Friday, Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday.

Video of the attack before dawn showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, about 50 kilometers southwest of Odessa. Ukrainian news reports said rockets hit a multi-storey apartment building and resort area.

“A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they are fighting civilians,” said Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odessa regional government, said 21 people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Batchuk previously said on the Telegram messaging app that an additional 30 people had been injured.

Missiles fired from the Black Sea: Governor

Among the fatalities was an employee of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center set up by neighboring Ukraine, Moldova, at the resort.

“These peaceful people made the days of the children of Moldova more beautiful, they took care of their rehabilitation with great love and dedication,” Moldovan Health Minister Alla Nemerenko said on her Facebook page.

The regional governor said the rockets had been fired from the direction of the Black Sea.

The Kremlin denied targeting civilians.

“I would like to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian armed forces do not work with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia has focused its main ground campaign on eastern Ukraine, where it is demanding that Kiev relinquish complete control of two provinces to pro-Russian separatist accomplices.

VIEW | What happened in week 19 of the Russian attack on Ukraine:

What happened in week 19 of the Russian attack on Ukraine?

More than a dozen civilians were killed in a Russian rocket attack on a busy shopping center as Russia and Ukraine engaged in the war’s largest prisoner swap. NATO also made an invitation for membership to Sweden and Finland. Here is a summary of the war in Ukraine from June 25 to July 1.

Ukraine’s last bastion in Luhansk province is the city of Lysychansk across the Siverskyi Donets River, nearly surrounded by a relentless Russian artillery attack.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Russian attacks in the past 24 hours have also killed civilians in eastern Ukraine — four in the northeastern region of Kharkiv and in Donetsk province.

US sends more aid

The US announced Friday that it will provide Ukraine with $820 million in new military aid, including new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars, to respond to Russia’s heavy reliance on long-range strikes in the war.

Russia has fired dozens of rockets over Ukraine in recent days, pinning Ukrainian troops with continuous shelling, sometimes for hours at a time. Ukraine’s leaders have publicly called on Western allies to quickly send more ammunition and advanced systems that will help them narrow the equipment and manpower gap.

All told, the US has pledged more than $8.8 billion US in weapons and military training to Ukraine, whose leaders have sought more help from Western allies to fend off larger and heavily equipped Russian forces. About $7 billion of that aid has been announced since the Russian invasion in February.

“We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” US President Joe Biden said at a news conference this week during the NATO summit in Madrid. He argued that Russia had already taken a blow to its international reputation and suffered major damage to its economy as a result of Western sanctions imposed during the invasion.