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Russia appears to be making efforts to gain “full control” not only over eastern Ukraine, but also its southern regions along the Black Sea when explosions hit the city of Odesa and nearby Moldova Saturday.
Six missiles targeted the port city according to Ukraine’s southern military command.
Spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk confirmed that four rockets hit a furniture factory in a residential area, while two more hits hit a previously damaged runway, Reuters first reported.
It is unclear if any causes have been confirmed.
Russian forces also reportedly hit an energy company in the southern city of Mykolaiv with 20 workers on site at the time of the attack, although no causes have been reported.
The explosions were confirmed on Saturday in the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria after two drones reportedly flew over military units in the village of Voronkove, about five miles from the Ukrainian border.
Moldovan President Maya Sandu said officials continue to assess “Moldova is safe, but we remain vigilant”.
“The government’s priority is to preserve the peace, life and security of the citizens,” he said during a press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, according to local news.
Russia said late last month that the second phase of its military operation in Ukraine will not only focus on the Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Donbas, but will also target the southern regions of Ukraine and potentially neighboring Moldova.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to keep fighting, and NATO allies have increased their support not only for Kiev but also for the nations bordering the war-torn country.
Despite international anger over the illegal invasion and mounting allegations of grave human rights abuses, a Moscow official on Friday doubled the Kremlin’s determination to take Ukrainian territory.
Speaking from a visit to the occupied Kherson region, a Russian lawmaker said Russia would stay in southern Ukraine “forever,” a Moscow-based media reported.
“Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about that. There will be no return to the past,” said an official named Andrey Turchak. “We will live together, we will develop this rich region, rich in historical heritage, rich in people who live here”.
Ukrainian officials have sounded the alarm that Russia will seek to annex the southern region of Cherson and recent reports have suggested that they prevented all Ukrainians from evacuating the area.
Men of fighting age have been arrested and detained in filter camps where officials believe they will later be drafted into the Russian military or used for forced labor.