Russian missile strikes on the port city of Odesa killed at least one person and 19 injured, and damaged important buildings in the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ukrainian officials said Sunday. The Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or transfiguration cathedral, was badly damaged, officials said on Telegram. Orthodox shrines in the early 19th century cathedral were also damaged, the authors said, adding that the Kasperovska Icon of the Mother of God, who is the patroness of Odesa, was retrieved from under the rubble. The Tolstoy family's palace, known as the House of Scientists, was also damaged. NBC News did not verify these reports. Earlier this year, UNESCO declared Odesa a World Heritage Site and declared it an endangered World Heritage Site. Strikes also destroyed six residential buildings, including several apartment blocks, Odesa Governor Oleh Kiper said in a post on his Telegram channel. He said: One person was killed and 19 have been injured, including three children. He said a 17-year-old was in a serious condition in intensive care.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there would be a retaliation to the attack on his own Telegram channel. Missiles against peaceful cities, against residential buildings, a cathedral can be no excuse for Russian evil, he said, adding: Missiles against peaceful cities, against residential buildings, a cathedral can be no excuse for Russian evil. A later video posted on social media by the Odesa City Council shows the mayor's wife, Gennadiy Trukhanov, walking through the cathedral, which is strewn with rubble and debris and significantly damaged. The cathedral is a temple in the city of Ukraine and was founded in 1794 by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Although the church has been accused of links to Russia, it has denied the Russian invasion from the beginning and has declared independence from Moscow. Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday that its forces had attacked sites in Odesa where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared. The report said that the strikes had been carried out with sea-based and air-based long-precision weapons and that there were foreign mercenaries at the sites.
The minister said in a statement that its attacks had struck the Transfiguration Cathedral, claiming that the destruction of the cathedral was likely due to the fall of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft guided missile. The Russian government has been carrying out consistent attacks on Odesa, a key center for exporting grain, since President Vladimir Putin canceled a landmark grain deal on Monday that enabled grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the ongoing conflict has threatened hunger levels and caused a surge in food prices. Russia's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Russia is suspending the initiative until its demands to get its own agricultural shipments to the world were met, despite the fact that wheat shipments from the country hit all-time highs this year following a large harvest.