Four Months of Russian Strikes on Odesa: Nine Dead, Including Two Children
The full-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation on February 24, has been going on for four months now. The “official” and top-priority plans that the Russian federal channels voiced in the first weeks now seem to have been forgotten even by the invaders themselves, whose actions increasingly demonstrate Russia’s real intent — the destruction of Ukraine.
Enemy missile strikes continue to destroy both military and civilian infrastructure, killing and burying civilians under the rubble. Odesa and the region, which, despite the expectations of the invaders, did not welcome the enemy with open arms, are “paying” for their resistance with dozens of damaged buildings, blocked access to the sea, and human lives and wellbeing. At least nine civilians have been killed by enemy attacks since February 24.
Our goal at Bihus.Info is to gather and organize information about the most extensive episodes of shelling of the city and its consequences.
The first missile attack on the city took place on March 21. Russian Black Sea Navy opened fire on private houses, a new development, and a recreation center located on the coast.
As a result of the shelling, window frames were destroyed, glass was shattered, and fragments damaged the walls and ceilings. Fires broke out in some buildings. One of the shells hit a gas pipeline and damaged it. Small craters could also be seen on the asphalt near the houses.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but one person was injured. The survivor was 80-year-old Anatoliy, who was at home at the time of the attack. He lives in a private house on the slope, just below the new development. The man loves fishing, so he had never imagined a place to live other than the coast. He was saved from the more severe consequences of the impact by the kitchen, which the pensioner calls a bunker because he made it himself out of a metal container.
“After the first bang, I jumped out of the bedroom and ran into the kitchen. There was a second bang and an explosion. I thought the third one would be mine, and it was,” the man told us at the time, showing the wounds on his arm and stomach.
Anatoliy felt no pain, but there was a lot of blood. The man hid behind a refrigerator and waited for the shelling to end. When everything calmed down, he bandaged his arm with a rag and waited for rescuers and an ambulance. The medics stopped the bleeding and treated the wounds. Anatoliy did not require hospitalization because the scratches were shallow.
Part of Anatoliy’s house was destroyed: the roof, windows, doors, some of the walls, and some furniture were gone. There were traces of shell fragments on the façade, and the yard was strewn with the remains of the building. Anatoly didn’t have a place to move to.
Iryna, the owner of another destroyed house near the coast, was not at home at the time of the enemy shelling. The woman said she had moved to a safer location on February 24. Her family had lived in this house for the past two years and had recently completed renovations.
“The neighbors called in the morning. They said that there had been shelling, that there was something wrong with our house and we needed to come. We immediately realized there was a problem. We came and there was what you can see for yourselves,” the woman said, “I don’t know what survived. Everything is ruined. Apparently, the shell hit the house and exploded, because you can see that everything inside was destroyed. And it wasn’t just one shell. There must have been several. Another one went through the summer kitchen [an adjacent building] and went through the wall next to the gas cylinder. Literally 20 centimeters away.”
The national police opened criminal proceedings under Part 1 Article 438 (Violation of Laws and Customs of War) of the Criminal Code for the shelling of a civilian neighborhood, local authorities began documenting the damage caused by the enemy, and the emergency utilities resumed supplying gas, electricity, heat, and water to the affected homes.
Oil Depot Attack
On April 3, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., the Russian military shelled Odesa again. The invaders hit the city several times. Some of the missiles were shot down by the air defense system, while others hit infrastructure facilities. In particular, the territory of an oil refinery and several oil storage tanks were attacked. The shelling resulted in the destruction of fuel tanks, and damage to utility buildings and gas pipes. There were no casualties. One man was injured; he was hospitalized and discharged from the hospital the next day.
In addition to destroyed infrastructure, civilian buildings were also damaged. The façade of a residential building located near the depot was left partially without windows. Pieces of the shattered windows, as well as shell fragments, hit the apartments during the explosions.
Fortunately, no one was injured, as only 13 people lived in the house. The rest, as one of the locals explained, had left after the full-scale Russian invasion began. According to the woman, at least five missiles hit the plant. The blast wave blew out the frames of her windows and shredded her apartment with shell fragments.
“I didn’t hear the first blow. My husband woke me up in a hurry, and the baby and I ran out into the corridor. There we heard the second explosion. I quickly gathered up my son, put my jacket on right over his T-shirt, and ran out into the corridor in crocs, almost barefoot. There was a third explosion. The shockwave caused the front door to open and the refrigerator to rotate. Next came the fourth. By the fifth, we were already standing on the playground, close to our house, because there was no bomb shelter nearby. It was scary. It was hell. I can’t tell you how my child cried,” the woman said.
After the incident, the Prosecutor General’s Office opened criminal proceedings under the article on war crimes, Part. 1 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code (Violation of Laws and Customs of War). The Odesa Regional Prosecutor’s Office added that there were no military facilities on the territory of the plant and storage facilities.
Missile Attack on a New Development
At the end of April, carried out airstrikes on Odesa. One of the missiles hit an apartment building in a commuter town in the city. The attack killed eight people, including Valeriya Hlodan, 28, her three-month-old daughter, and her mother. Their bodies were found in the bathroom where they tried to hide from the Russian airstrike.
The attack took place on the eve of Easter, on Saturday, April 23. The invaders fired eight cruise missiles at the city from Russian TU-95 bombers that were in the Caspian Sea. Thanks to air defense, the Ukrainian military managed to shoot down several of the missiles. The rest struck infrastructure and military facilities, a local cemetery, and a sixteen-story house.
The new development hit by the Russians is located in a densely populated residential neighborhood. There are many stores, a business center, a gas station, and a tram route in close vicinity. There were offices, a hairdresser’s, and other commercial facilities on the first floor of the building, and the rest were ordinary apartments.
The missile struck the building between the fourth and fifth floors at 2:35 p.m. It shot through the building. The explosions caused the rooms between the second and fifth floors to collapse. Exits were blocked, leaving people trapped. At the same time, a fire broke out that quickly engulfed more than 200 square meters. According to unofficial information, the missile did not detonate, so the structural elements survived and the entrance did not collapse.
Rescuers evacuated 86 residents and pulled two more from under the rubble. Eighteen people were injured, and five were hospitalized. Eight civilians were killed in the attack. This is the largest attack on Odesa in terms of casualties since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, and the first to result in the death of a child. She was only three months old.
According to Ivan, a tenant living on the tenth floor of the building, the locals first heard a bang and an explosion, after which glass started flying out of the windows. There was a lot of smoke on the floors and shouting from the street. When his family managed to escape from the building, it was already on fire. The first floors, he said, from the second to the sixth, were hit the hardest.
“The cars standing nearby exploded. The flames were so strong that almost nothing was left of them. Most likely there were people there because we heard loud screams. Passers-by were running up to the cars, pulling someone out,” said Ivan.
According to another resident, Artem, who lives on the sixteenth floor, he also first heard a bang and then an explosion. It was so strong that the building seemed to shake.
“I realized something serious had happened and I had to run downstairs. I had an emergency backpack with all my documents and money in it. I grabbed the backpack, opened the door, and there was no light, everything was in smoke. I didn’t know if I could come down. My neighbor had come down earlier and called his family to come down too, that there was a way through. My neighbors put on respirators, I wrapped myself in a scarf and we ran as fast as we could to the street,” said Artem.
One of the first on the scene were paramedics from the local organization Moto Health. They usually help motorcyclists in accidents, but this time, after discussing it in a group chat, they decided to help the residents of the affected house.
When the paramedics arrived on the scene, they immediately grabbed first-aid kits and ran to the apartments to evacuate people. One of the participants, Zhan Nikolayenko, said that they managed to save three residents and a cat. They were also approached by one of the apartment owners, Yuriy Hlodan, asking to find his three-month-old baby. Shortly before the shelling, the man had gone out to the store to buy groceries before Easter. That’s what saved his life. But he didn’t know yet what had happened to his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law, who remained at home.
“We had to find them among all the rubble. It’s hard, with wires hanging down and fixtures sticking out, to work in those conditions. But we started searching. Most people were in shelters, they were hiding in the bathrooms because that’s where we found them. But unfortunately, that didn’t help some of them. We didn’t find the child because we were soon asked to leave the building due to a possible collapse. The man held on very bravely, not everyone can do that. His family died right in front of him,” said the paramedic.
It took more than two hours for almost a hundred firefighters to defeat the fire. After that, work began on clearing the rubble and reinforcing the entrance. According to engineer Dmytro Teteriatnyk, who organized this, during the first days of the fire, emergency workers, utility workers, and volunteers managed to remove about 600 tons of rubble. The house, even after such a hard blow, could be restored, but it would take at least six months.
After the attack, the Odesa Regional Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceedings for violation of laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder, namely Part 2 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code. According to law enforcers, there were no military facilities on this territory.
After the tragic event, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi called the invaders “stinking bastards” who made killing Ukrainian children “their new national idea”.
“Eight people were killed, 18 or 20 others were injured. They killed a three-month-old baby. The war started when she was only a month old. What’s even happening? The stinking bastards. There are no other words,” Zelenskyi said, reacting emotionally to the atrocity.
The day after the shelling, BBC journalists met Yuriy Hlodan at the destroyed house. He came to the apartment to get his surviving belongings: a photo album, his wife’s collection of sugar packets, and handwritten notes. He also found the carcass of his daughter’s stroller among the rubble.
“I was present during the birth. I cried with happiness when our daughter was born. Now it’s very hard to realize that my daughter is gone. And my wife and my mother-in-law. The whole world just died yesterday in front of my eyes. It was killed by a Russian missile. And unfortunately, my family was not the only one,” Yuriy added then.
On April 27, relatives, friends, and citizens bid farewell to Valeriya Hlodan, her three-month-old baby, and her mother at the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa. After the ceremony, Yuriy Hlodan called Vladimir Putin a terrorist and Russia a murderer country.
The destroyed apartment building in Odesa, where eight people were killed, became a kind of marker of the “Russian world” ideology in the city. A small homemade memorial of wooden pallets was erected next to it, where citizens still bring flowers, stuffed toys, and children’s books. Almost a month after the tragedy, the building was visited by Lithuanian Parliament Vice Speaker Paulius Saudargas, Deputy Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Małgorzata Gosiewska, and members of the US Congress Tim Walberg and Victoria Spartz, as well as European Council President Charles Michel.
“This is not a war of armies or militaries. This is a murder of people, a genocide of the Ukrainian people. But the people themselves, no matter how hard they try to suppress them, are getting stronger. The Ukrainians will win this war because they have a fighting spirit,” Victoria Spartz noted standing near the building.
Murder of a 14-Year-Old Boy
The invaders again attacked civilian and infrastructure facilities on May 2, the anniversary of the tragic events in Odesa, when pro-Ukrainian citizens clashed with anti-Maidan activists first in the city center and then near the House of Trade Unions, where a fire ensued. Forty-eight people died then. It was this event that Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly mentioned in his speeches about the alleged “barbaric crimes” of the Ukrainians.
On that day, an extended curfew was in effect in Odesa, and law enforcement officers warned of possible provocations on that day in advance. The Russian military launched a strike on Odesa from occupied Crimea. Onyx missiles fired from the Bastion coastal complex hit an infrastructure facility and a two-story dormitory where five people were staying at the time.
A fire broke out in the destroyed house, which rescuers were only able to put out after three hours. The blast from the missile explosion also damaged the nearby monastery.
A 14-year-old boy died as a result of the shelling. Another underage girl was taken to the hospital with shrapnel wounds in critical condition.
According to a neighbor of the killed child, it was not the first time Russian missiles had hit their apartment building, so the residents had to move to the basement. As for the boy, according to her, he studied diligently and tried to continue studying even in the basement.
“He studied so hard. He was taking exams online in the basement. He was so worried when the teacher told him something wrong and he didn’t make it on time,” the woman told me.
“Another blow to Odesa. Another death of a child. And another manifestation of the “Russian world”. As a result of the missile strike, a residential house was damaged. A child was killed. Another one is wounded, she is now being given all the help she needs. There is and will never be any forgiveness for those who spill the blood of innocent children,” Odesa mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov commented.
This article was produced by Bihus.Info as part of the program “Supporting Ukraine’s Regional Media in Times of War” with the financial support of the European Union and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Norway. The content is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not reflect the views of the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
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