KYIV, Ukraine — Russian missile attacks on residential areas in a coastal town near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa early Friday killed at least 18 people, including two children, authorities reported, a day after Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island.
Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 31 miles southwest of Odesa. Ukrainian news reports said missiles struck a multi-story apartment building and a resort area.
“A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kirill Tymoshenko, said 18 people died, including two children. A spokesman for the Odesa regional government, Serhiy Bratchuk, said on the Telegram messaging app that another 30 had been injured.
Sixteen of the 18 victims died in the strike on the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said.
The airstrikes followed the pullout of Russian forces from Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to potentially ease the threat to nearby Odesa. The island sits along a busy shipping lane. Russia took control of it in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa.
The Kremlin portrayed the pullout from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture.” Ukraine’s military claimed a barrage of its artillery and missiles forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats. The exact number of withdrawing troops was not disclosed.
Russian bombardments killed large numbers of civilians earlier in the war, including at a hospital and a theater in the port city of Mariupol. Mass casualties had appeared to become more infrequent as Moscow concentrated on capturing eastern Ukraine’s entire Donbas region.
However, a missile strike Monday on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine, killed at least 19 people and injured another 62, authorities said Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied that Russian forces targeted the shopping mall, saying that his country doesn’t hit civilian facilities. He claimed the target in Kremenchuk was a nearby weapons depot, echoing the remarks of his military officials.