A Ukrainian mother and her three-month-old baby killed when a Russian missile hit a residential tower block in Odesa on Saturday have been identified.
Videos from Odesa yesterday showed the attack, with a huge ball of fire and smoke erupting from the building as it was struck by a flying object. At least eight people are believed to have been killed, and a further 18 injured.
Valeria Hlodan, 27, and her baby daughter Kira were in their apartment at the time of the strike. Ms Hlodan’s mother – who was originally from Russia – was also killed.
The strike came a day before both Russia and Ukraine marked Orthodox Easter, with pictures showing president Vladimir Putin on Sunday attending a service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Many Ukrainians and Russians celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, with Easter Sunday falling this year on April 24.
The attack sparked outrage in Ukraine at Putin over the missile strike on the coastal city, which hit the family’s residential block while supposedly targeting a military target using a Tu-95 strategic bomber flying over the Caspian Sea, according to reports.
In his customary nightly address to the nation, an emotional Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to find and punish those responsible for the missile strike.
‘The war started when this baby was 1 month old. Can you imagine what is happening?’ Zelensky said. ‘They are just b***ards. I don’t have any other words for it, just b***ards.’
Zelensky urged Ukrainians to observe a curfew and not attend Orthodox Easter services overnight. The lengthy services traditionally begin late Saturday and run through Sunday morning. ‘But starting from 5 a.m. you may go to the church in your city, town or community,’ he said.
On the attack and the Russian invasion, which today entered its third month, Zelensky said: ‘The world has not seen such barbarism in 80 years.’ Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermark said: ‘Nothing is sacred…. The evil will be punished.’
Valeria Hlodan (pictured), 27, and her baby daughter Kira were in their apartment at the time of the strike. Ms Hlodan’s mother – who was originally from Russia – was also killed
Pictured left: Baby Kira with her grandmother Liudmila, who was killed alongside Kira and her young mother Valeria, pictured right with her husband Yuriy
Yuriy Glodan with baby daughter Kira, killed on 23 April 2022 by a Russian missile in Odesa. Upon learning of the attack, the broken-hearted father wrote: ‘My dear ones, Kingdom of Heaven! You are in our hearts!’
Left: A missile is seen flying through the air over Odesa before striking the apartment building. Right: Flames are seen as the missile hits the building
Multiple videos from Odesa yesterday showed the missile strike, with a huge ball of fire and smoke erupting from the building. At least eight people are believed to have been killed, and a further 18 injured
Thousands of Ukrainians have fled to Odesa since the start of the war and there had previously been only a handful of attacks on the city.
In recent days, the local authorities had even begun dismantling anti-tank barriers and some checkpoints in the city centre after the Ukrainian military foiled a series of Russian strikes. But the attack raised fears more could be immanent in the city.
Analysts believe Putin wants to capture the city and form a land bridge in the south of Ukraine, between Russia and Transnistria – the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova – in order to cut off Kyiv’s access to the Black Sea.
The mayor of Odesa Gennadiy Trukhanov said in front of the blitzed apartment block: ‘Behind my back is what the [Russian] occupiers name ‘a military object’.
‘What they hit today with their high-precision weapon, this is what they call a military object. Eight people were killed, one of them a three-month-old baby girl, a resident of Odesa, who wasn’t given a chance to see life.
‘Scumbags you are, may you burn in hell,’ he said.
Emergency service workers extinguish fire after a missile strike, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Odesa Oblast, Ukraine April 23, 2022
Rescuers work to remove debris from a building that was hit in a military strike, amid Russia’s invasion, in Odesa, April 24
An apartment building damaged after Russian shelling in Odesa, Ukraine, Saturday, April 23
View shows a residential building damaged by a missile strike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine, April 23, 2022
Members of the emergency team work near a residential building damaged by a missile strike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine, April 23, 2022
A woman holds a dog as she sits near a residential building damaged by a missile strike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine, April 23, 2022
Kira’s family had Russian roots, and spoke Russian.
Her loving grandmother Liudmila Yavkina, 53, was from Novosibirsk – Siberia’s largest city – which means Putin is killing his own, because they happen to be in Ukraine.
And after her wedding to Kira’s father Yuriy on July 30, 2019, Valeria, a brand manager who was also studying journalism in Odesa, posted: ‘This was the best day! ‘Thank you my darling husband, this was the happiest start of our family history.
‘We will remember the wedding day forever – and thank you to all our family members and friends for being with us.’ The brokenhearted father wrote: ‘My dear ones, Kingdom of Heaven! You are in our hearts!’.
A message from Ukraine’s parliament said: ‘A charming young mother and her three-month-old child… Their lives were taken by Russia today when a Russian rocket hit a residential building in Odesa….RIP, our angels.’
Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko – an advisor to the Interior Ministry – said: ‘Odesa will never forgive murder of its children.…
‘An entire family perished – Liudmila Yavkina, her daughter Valeria and her three-month-old granddaughter Kira. Hatred is filling our hearts.
‘This was an ordinary yard of an ordinary apartment block in Odesa. It was a holiday, the Saturday before Easter, so there were children playing in the yard, there was laughter, there was life.
‘But the Russian b***ards don’t have a [holy] ceasefire. They aim at where it hurts the most – the peaceful cities, unarmed civilians, innocent children.’
Putin was shown in footage apparently attending the midnight mass at Christ the Saviour Cathedral close to the Kremlin in Moscow.
He held a lighted candle and when Patriarch Kirill – head of the Orthodox Church – said ‘Christ has risen’, Putin joined other worshippers with the reply ‘Truly he is risen’.
The Russian defense ministry claimed it had hit a logistics terminal at a military airfield where Russia said a ‘large consignment’ of weapons from the US and European countries was being stored.
Russian forces had also destroyed weapons, ammunition and fuel depots, among other targets, and killed up to 200 Ukrainian fighters.
KYIV: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses Ukrainian people with Orthodox Easter message, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, at the Saint Sophia cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine April 23, 2022
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia, 24 April 2022
Saturday’s brutal assault has brought fresh fears that Vladimir Putin intends to seize all of southern Ukraine.
One man at the scene said he had been in his parents’ flat on the 12th floor of the 14-storey building when there was an explosion and all the windows shattered.
To leave, the family had to push aside the fragments of a door and climb down before jumping to safety from the first floor.
Anna Vishenka, a 38-year-old dentist from Odesa, described how she had been on a bus – and therefore could not reach a shelter – when the bombing began.
‘A child on the bus was crying and telling his mother that if we die, he will always love her,’ she said. ‘It is difficult to comprehend the horror of everything that is happening.
‘You feel fear not for yourself or your life, but for your relatives, because you don’t know where the next blow may be.’
Samuel Ramani, a Russian expert at Oxford University, warned Putin would ‘intensify attacks’ on Odesa, a major export hub.
‘Gaining control of Odesa helps landlock Ukraine and grants Russia complete hegemony over its Black Sea coast,’ he said.
Two of Putin’s stooges warned Saturday that Moscow’s forces would look to make further territorial gains inside the country.
Russian MP Leonid Babashov said Russia will aim to place the Ukrainian cities of Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Odesa under its ‘protection’, while Mikhail Sheremet, a member of Putin’s United Russia Party, claimed the Crimea and southern Ukraine would be united into a single ‘federal district’ of Russia.
It came a day after one of Putin’s top generals, Rustam Minnekayev, revealed plans to annex Ukraine’s coastline and hinted at future military action in Moldova to protect ‘oppressed’ Russian speakers in the enclave of Transnistria, which has been effectively controlled by Moscow since 1992.
Elsewhere, speaking on Saturday, Zelensky said new evidence is emerging that shows Russian troops killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol and then tried to cover it up.
A view shows the city in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine April 22, 2022
An aerial view shows damaged buildings, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine in this handout picture taken with a drone released April 24, 2022
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 22, 2022, shows a cemetery near Vynohradne, Ukraine (approximately 12 kilometers east of Mariupol) on March 22, 2022
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a closer view of new graves being dug at a cemetery near Vynohradne, approximately 12 kilometers east of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 29, 2022
He said Ukraine has intercepted Russian conversations about ‘how they are concealing the traces of their crimes.’ Satellite images have shown what appear to be mass graves dug in towns to the west and east of Mariupol.
Zelenskyy said the Russians set up ‘filtration camps’ near Mariupol for those trying to leave the city, which has largely been reduced to rubble.
He said those who survive these camps are sent to areas under Russian occupation or to Russia itself, often as far as Siberia or the Far East.
Many of them, he said, are children.
He said he spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday about the situation in Mariupol and the general course of the war.
Russia resumed its assault on the last Ukrainian defenders holed up in a giant steel works in Mariupol on Saturday, days after Moscow declared victory in the southern city and said its forces did not need to take the plant.
The fate of the Ukrainians in the sprawling and besieged seaside complex, where Russia says its forces have taken the rest of the city, wasn’t immediately clear.
A Ukrainian military unit on Saturday released a video reportedly taken two days earlier in which women and children holed up underground, some for as long as two months, said they longed to see the sun.
‘We want to see peaceful skies, we want to breathe in fresh air,’ one woman in the video said. ‘You have simply no idea what it means for us to simply eat, drink some sweetened tea. For us, it is already happiness.’
Russia said it took control of several villages elsewhere in the eastern Donbas region and destroyed 11 Ukrainian military targets overnight, including three artillery warehouses. Russian attacks also struck populated areas.
The Ukrainian military said Saturday it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.
The command post was hit on Friday, killing two generals and critically wounding another, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said in a statement. The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.