Russian missile strike kills at least 21 in Ukraine's Odesa region, a day after Snake Island withdrawal: July 1 recap

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Editor's note: This page recaps the news from Ukraine on Friday, July 1.

KYIV, Ukraine — At least 21 people were killed and 30 injured in a Russian missile strike early Friday in southern Ukraine’s Odesa region, authorities said, a day after Russian troops abandoned their positions on an island off the coast of Odesa that has become a symbol of the Ukrainians' stiff resistance.

Sergei Bratchuk, a spokesman for Odesa's military administration, said the missiles were launched by aircraft in the Black Sea and struck a nine-story apartment building. At least two of the dead were children and three other kids were rescued from the rubble. Video of the attack before daybreak showed the charred ruins of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka.

Ukrainian authorities interpreted the attack as payback for Russian troops being forced off Snake Island, a tiny rocky outcrop south of Odesa and just 30 miles from European Union nation Romania's closest coastal city. Moscow, however, called its Thursday withdrawal a "gesture of goodwill" over allegations it is blocking grain exports from Ukrainian ports.

Ukrainian civilians are being killed and injured every day by Russian missile strikes and artillery shelling. On Monday, at least 18 people were killed and dozens injured in a missile strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, in central Ukraine. About 1,000 people were in the mall at the time and at least 20 are still missing.

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MAPPING AND TRACKING: Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Latest developments

► Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed full control over a major oil and natural gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian firm, a bold move amid spiraling tensions with the West over Moscow's military action in Ukraine.

► An international film festival in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary kicked off Friday amid controversy following a protest by Ukraine against the scheduled screening of a Russian movie, “Captain Volkonogov Escaped.”

►Russian forces deliberately dropped two 1,000-plus-pound bombs on the Mariupol theater that was being used as a shelter March 16, resulting in a mass killing of civilians that amounted to a war crime, according to evidence cited in a report Thursday by the rights group Amnesty International.

►WNBA star Brittney Griner's trial for drug charges in Russia began Friday, but experts say it will probably lack legitimacy. Read more here. 

In this photo provided by the Odesa Regional Prosecutor's Office, a damaged residential building is seen in Odesa, Ukraine, early Friday following Russian missile attacks.
In this photo provided by the Odesa Regional Prosecutor's Office, a damaged residential building is seen in Odesa, Ukraine, early Friday following Russian missile attacks.

Russian missile that killed 18 not designed to avoid civilian casualties

The Russian missile used in the deadly strike on the shopping mall in Ukraine on June 27 was designed to attack ships, a senior defense official said Friday. The missile did not have the accuracy needed to avoid civilian casualties in an urban environment.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe intelligence assessments, described Russia's use of the anti-ship missile as reckless, and Russian commanders could have expected it to kill or wound civilians. The attack killed at least 18 people.

— Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY

US to send additional $820M in aid to Ukraine, including missile systems

The United States will send $820 million more in aid to Ukraine, including missile systems, officials announced Friday.

Included in the package are two systems called NASAMS, a Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft system currently used to protect airspace around government buildings in Washington. The Pentagon will also provide additional ammunition for HIMARS rocket systems given to Ukraine in June.

The newest round of aid brings the U.S.' total commitment to about $8.8 billion to Ukraine, $7 billion of it since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Biden vows US, NATO allies will stand with Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

Speaking in Madrid, President Joe Biden vowed Thursday the U.S. and its NATO allies would back Ukraine "for as long as it takes" in its war with Russia.

Russia is paying "a very, very heavy price" for its decision to invade Ukraine, Biden said, during a news conference in Madrid at the close of a six-day trip to Europe, which included a summit of NATO leaders.

"I don't know how it's going to end," Biden said of the war, "but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine."

— Francesca Chambers and Michael Collins, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine updates: At least 21 dead in Russian missile strike near Odesa