Kiev’s ‘incompetence’ to blame for damage to Odessa cathedral – Moscow

23 Jul, 2023 11:08 / Updated 10 months ago
The largest Orthodox church in the city was likely hit by a Ukrainian missile, the Russian military has said

Ukrainian claims that the largest Orthodox cathedral in the port city of Odessa was severely damaged by a Russian missile strike are completely false, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has said, adding that it was likely hit by Kiev’s own air defense systems.

In a statement on Sunday, the ministry said that “the information disseminated by the Kiev regime about the Transfiguration Cathedral in the city of Odessa being hit by [Russian] high-precision weapons does not correspond to reality.” It added that all Russian strikes successfully hit military facilities in the region that were located “at a safe distance from the temple complex.”

Officials also stressed that “the planning of high-precision strikes against the military and terrorist infrastructure of the Kiev regime is carried out based on carefully vetted and confirmed information” in a bid to avoid hitting the civilian population as well as cultural sites.

The ministry added that the footage from the scene suggests that “the most likely cause for the destruction of [the cathedral] was the fall of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft guided missile.” The incident could have been caused by the “incompetent actions” of personnel managing Ukrainian air defense systems which Kiev deliberately deploys in civilian-populated areas, it added.

According to the ministry, the Russian strikes overnight successfully hit Ukrainian naval facilities near Odessa that were “used to prepare terrorist acts against Russia” involving sea drones. Officials also claimed that the attack landed on compounds accommodating foreign mercenaries fighting for Kiev.

Photos circulating on social media appear to show extensive damage to the cathedral’s facade, with the floor inside the lavishly decorated building strewn with rubble. The pictures also show the altar smashed into pieces and shattered ceiling murals.

Initially founded in 1794, the Transfiguration Cathedral became the main church of the entire region before being demolished by the Soviets in 1936. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was restored and consecrated by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in 2010.

In recent days, Russian forces ramped up strikes in Odessa Region, targeting shipyards, fuel depots, and weapons stockpiles, according to the Defense Ministry. The attacks came in response to a Ukrainian maritime drone raid on the Crimean Bridge earlier this month that damaged one section of the roadway and claimed the lives of a married couple from Russia, injuring their teenage daughter.