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Zelensky vows Ukrainian victory as death toll in Odesa strike hits 12

In World
March 03, 2024

KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 3 called for the world to help Kyiv defeat “Russian evil” as the death toll from a Russian drone strike on Odesa rose to 12, including five children.

A Russian drone hit an apartment block in the southern port city early March 2 morning, partially destroying several floors and leaving more than a dozen people under the rubble.

The attack killed at least five children, including two babies less than a year old, according to statements by Zelensky and the regional governor.

“Mark, who was not even three years old, Yelyzaveta, eight months old, and Timofey, four months old,” Zelensky said, naming the youngest victims of the strike in a post on Telegram.

“Ukrainian children are Russia’s military targets,” he said.

Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Sunday evening, more than 36 hours after the strike.

Zelensky had pleaded March 2 with Kyiv’s Western allies to supply more air defence systems as Russia continues to pound Ukraine with drones, missiles and artillery fire in the war’s third year.

Kyiv is currently on the back foot with Russia having made recent front-line battlefield gains.

Zelensky said 215 emergency responders had taken part in an ongoing search and rescue operation in Odesa.

As delays to a crucial US$60 billion (S$80.69 billion) aid package from the United States have left Kyiv facing ammunition shortages, Zelensky said the attack showed the importance of supporting Ukraine.

“We must win this war,” he said on March 3.

“Every Russian loss at the front is our country’s response to Russian terror. The world must respond to every manifestation of Russian evil and repel Russia’s actions.”

Bodies huddled together

There was no comment on the attack in Moscow, which denies targeting civilians despite excessive evidence of Russian strikes on residential areas and the United Nations having verified at least 10,000 civilian deaths since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Ukraine’s emergency services said they had found the bodies of families huddled together as they sifted through the rubble on March 3.

“A mother tried to cover her eight-month-old baby with her body. They were found in a tight embrace,” the agency said on Telegram.

Odesa Govenor Oleg Kiper said the bodies of a brother and sister, aged 10 and eight, were also found together in the debris on March 3 evening.

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