Heather Chen, Josh Pennington, Maria Kostenko, and Radina Gigova of CNN write that a wave of Russian drone and missile strikes have damaged the city of Odesa, including the historic Transfiguration Cathedral. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site belonging to the Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian Orthodox, which formally broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate last year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko called for Russia’s expulsion from UNESCO in response to the attack, accusing Moscow of showing no regard for either the people or cultural heritage of Odesa.
The authors continue:
Russian missiles badly damaged dozens of Ukrainian architectural landmarks, including a historic Orthodox cathedral in the southern port city of Odesa, sparking outrage and prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky to vow retaliation.
The strikes – the latest in a wave of attacks on Odesa – killed at least one person and injured several others, Ukrainian officials said. At least 25 architectural monuments were destroyed, a regional military official said.
“Russians deliberately aimed their missiles at the historic city center of Odesa, which is under the UNESCO protection. Everything that was built with hard work by great architects is now being destroyed by cynical inhumans,” Oleh Kiper said.
Some of the other cultural sites damaged include the House of Scientists and Zhvanetskyi Boulevard, Odesa’s Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov said Sunday. Several historic mansions were also destroyed.
The Transfiguration Cathedral is Odesa’s largest church building. It was consecrated in 1809, destroyed during the Soviet era in 1936 before being rebuilt when Ukraine became an independent nation.
The cathedral lies in Odesa’s city center, which UNESCO named a World Heritage Site amid the threat of Russia’s invasion.
Julia Gorodetska, a Ukrainian journalist who was caught up in the overnight attacks, wrote on her Facebook account that her house was left “shaking and bouncing.”
“It’s loud. Powerful. I’ve jumped up like a mountain goat and ran into the corridor. Nothing hurts anymore, there’s no depression. I desperately want to live,” she said, describing the moment the explosions hit.
The Russian Ministry of Defense denied targeting the cathedral and said it carried out attacks on where “terrorist acts” were being prepared. “All targets scheduled for attack were destroyed,” a statement added.