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Russian Defense Ministry claimed that in the latest missile attack on Odesa, one of the most damaging ones since the start of the full-scale war, its troops targeted "facilities where terrorist acts against Russia were being prepared," Russian media reported on July 23.
The ministry claimed the attack hit the sites where "unmanned surface vehicles were being manufactured" to be used against Russia, and that "foreign mercenaries were on the affected sites," as quoted by the media.
Russia attacked Odesa Oblast with 19 missiles overnight on July 23, killing one person and injuring 19, including four children. Ukraine downed nine of the missiles, the Air Force said. It didn't specify where the other missiles hit.
According to Odesa Oblast Governor Oleh Kiper, the attack destroyed or damaged six residential buildings, two architectural landmarks, and dozens of cars.
The attack badly damaged Odesa's main cathedral, which was originally founded in 1794 and rebuilt in late 1990s.
The historic cathedral, however, belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate – a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church that has been supporting the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian imperialism claims Odesa as a Russian city. Current Russian state propaganda includes claims that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin "loves Odesa" and that Kremlin has "special plans for the city."
Still, Russian propagandists and officials have publicly welcomed the attacks on the city, and called for more. During his popular talk shows that air on state TV, top Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has called to destroy Kyiv and Lviv, adding that Russia "will not save Odesa (from destruction by war), but will rebuild it."
After the latest attack, Solovyov and other Russian propagandists claimed that the attack on the cathedral was conducted by Ukrainian forces.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that "there will be a response" to Russia's attack on Odesa.
"Missiles against peaceful cities, against residential buildings, a cathedral. There can be no excuse for Russian evil. As always, this evil loses. And for Odesa, there will definitely be a response to the Russian terrorists. They will feel this response," Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
The July 23 attack is the latest in a series of attacks on Odesa that Russian forces have launched this week, targeting critical port and grain infrastructure following Moscow's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.