Russian rocket hits close to Zelensky, Greek PM


Kyiv, Ukraine, March 7 A deadly Russian missile strike Wednesday on the Ukrainian port city of Odesa appeared to land near the motorcade of President Volodymyr Zelensky and the visiting Greek prime minister, who described the “intense” moment of the surprise attack.

                  Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Zelensky was giving him a tour of the Odesa port — a vital outlet for Ukrainian exports across the Black Sea — when “we heard sirens.”

                  “Shortly after, as we were getting into our vehicles, we heard a powerful explosion,” he said.

                  “We did not have time to get to a shelter. It is a very intense experience,” Mitsotakis said through a translator in Odesa.

                  Ukraine’s navy told AFP the attack on port infrastructure killed five people and left an unspecified number of wounded.

                  Ukraine stepped up its own attacks behind Russian lines with the apparent killing of a Russian election official with a car bomb and a drone assault on a metals plant.

                  Russia and Ukraine have increased aerial attacks as Moscow’s troops advance on the front lines and Kyiv faces a shortage of manpower and weapons.

                  Ukrainian navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk confirmed the Odesa strike came as the Greek delegation was visiting the port with Zelensky.

                  According to the White House spokeswoman in Washington, “it appears that (the rocket) landed near the convoy.”

                  In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed “total condemnation for the attack on Odesa during the meeting.”

                  But the Russian defence ministry claimed a strike on a “hangar in a commercial port area of Odesa in which crewless cutters were being prepared for combat use by the Ukrainian armed forces”.

                  The hit came just days after 12 people, including five children, were killed when a Russian drone hit an apartment block in the same Black Sea city, one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in weeks.

                  With the White House struggling to end Republican stonewalling on new US aid packages to Ukraine, a spokesperson for President Joe Biden’s National Security Council said the Odesa attack showed the “urgent need” for sending weapons.

                  “This strike is yet another reminder of how Russia is continuing to attack Ukraine recklessly every single day.”