Russian missiles hit oil refinery in Ukraine’s key port of Odesa

Russia says it has destroyed an oil processing plant and three fuel depots in the strategic port city

Bel Trew
in Zaporizhzhia
Sunday 03 April 2022 15:29 BST
Black smoke rises after Russian missiles strike fuel depots in Odesa
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Missiles struck Ukraine’s southern city of Odesa on Sunday, with Russia saying it had destroyed an oil processing plant and three fuel depots used by the Ukrainian military to supply its troops.

Towers of black smoke rose above the Black Sea port and residents told The Independent they heard a large explosion on Sunday morning which was so powerful it shook windows in the centre of the city.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said missiles were fired from ships and aircraft to strike the facilities, which he claimed were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian forces near Mykolaiv, more than 100km east of Odesa.

A woman in Odesa as black smoke rises above the Black Sea port following shelling

Odesa’s military administration said the rockets had been fired from the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

“No casualties as for now. The rockets were fired from Crimea, hitting the oil storage, port and some civilian infrastructure,” a spokesperson for the military administration told The Independent.

The spokesperson said he did not think that Sunday’s attack was the start of a wider assault on Odesa.

“Landing for them in Odesa is suicide, but we are not sure what their plans are. They pulled out of Kyiv and the north [of Ukraine] … and might review their plans,” he added.

Odesa is Ukraine’s largest port and the main base for Ukraine’s navy. It has been targeted by Moscow as it seeks a land corridor to Transnistria, a Russian-speaking breakaway province of Moldova that hosts Russian troops.

Since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on 24 February, the Kremlin’s forces have tried to take Mykolaiv in an attempt to encircle Odesa. But over the last few weeks, Ukrainian forces have pushed back the invading troops towards Kherson, which remains Russian-occupied.

In a separate development, Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Odesa on Sunday on a humanitarian aid mission and met with mayor Gennady Trukhanov. The Greek foreign ministry said it planned to set up a continuous mechanism of distributing aid from Greece and to reopen its consulate in the city.

Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias (centre) in Odesa with mayor Gennady Trukhanov (left)

Meanwhile, there was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the brutal five-week war. On Sunday, Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said talks were due to resume on Monday but added that a draft deal was not ready for any meeting between Mr Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

He said that while Ukraine was showing more realism by agreeing to be neutral, renouncing nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to host military bases, there had been no progress on other key Russian demands.

“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED,” he said on Telegram, adding that talks via video conference would continue on Monday.

Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia, meanwhile, said enough progress had been made for direct talks between the two leaders.

This map shows the extent of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Russia has recognised declarations of independence by the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, which rose up against Kyiv’s rule.

Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion.

The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 3km northwest of the capital, said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, and corpses were seen in a mass grave and lying on the streets.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that “what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide”, with civilians having been “shot with tied hands”.

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