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Death Toll Climbs After Russian Drone Strikes Odesa Apartment Block 


People react as they stand in front of toys and flowers displayed outside a multi-story building heavily damaged in Odesa on March 3, 2024.
People react as they stand in front of toys and flowers displayed outside a multi-story building heavily damaged in Odesa on March 3, 2024.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the world to “respond to every manifestation of Russian evil and repel Russia's actions,” as the death toll rose Sunday in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa after a Russian drone struck an apartment block, Saturday.

In a post Sunday on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Zelenskyy wrote the attack showed the importance of supporting Ukraine.

"We must win this war," he said.

So far 10 people have been reported dead, including three children, after a local official said that the body of a third child was pulled from the rubble, along with that of the child's mother.

“Russia has made Ukrainian children its military targets,” wrote Zelenskyy after the bodies of the three children were recovered. Three-year-old Mark, eight-month-old Yelyzaveta, and four-month-old Tymofiy were pulled from under the rubble.

Local officials said they expect the toll to rise as there are still people unaccounted for.

Four more people may be trapped under the debris, the local branch of Ukraine's main emergency service said in a Facebook update Sunday.

Rescue and recovery teams continue to comb through the rubble for survivors and bodies said Oleh Kiper, the governor of Odesa.

Regional authorities announced a day of mourning for the victims.

Rescuers clear debris from a multi-story building heavily damaged following a drone strike, in Odesa on March 3, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Rescuers clear debris from a multi-story building heavily damaged following a drone strike, in Odesa on March 3, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In his nightly video address Saturday, Zelenskyy urged Western allies to provide weapons to Ukraine, stressing that delays in supplying missile defense systems will cost more Ukrainian lives.

“When lives are lost, and partners are simply playing internal political games or disputes that limit our defense, it's impossible to understand. It's unacceptable. And it will be impossible to forget — the world will remember this,” he said.

In Washington, officials are viewing the shortage of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine and the drop off in U.S. supply shipments with increasing alarm. It has now been more than two months since the U.S. last sent military supplies to Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.

So far, House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring to a vote the $95 billion foreign aid package passed by the Senate that includes a crucial $60 billion in aid for Ukraine. That decision could stall the package for weeks after an already monthslong wait in Congress.

Biden to Republican Lawmakers: Consequences of Not Passing Ukraine Aid 'Dire'
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U.S. Defense Department officials are discussing options that could include tapping existing Pentagon stockpiles before Congress approves funding to replenish them, according to Sen. Jack Reed, the chairperson of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

At a White House meeting this week, President Joe Biden, the two top Democrats in Congress and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell all urged Johnson to put the Senate-passed package to a vote.

Ukraine talks

China’s foreign ministry said that Special Representative Li Hui and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin met Saturday evening in Moscow and agreed that negotiations are the only way to end the fighting in Ukraine.

In a readout published Sunday, China's foreign ministry said that Beijing is ready to "continue its efforts to promote peace talks, mediate and build consensus among Russia, Ukraine and other relevant parties, and promote a final political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

The Russian foreign ministry called the meeting on the war in Ukraine "a very engaged and thorough exchange of views” in a statement on its website adding "it was stated that any discussion of a political and diplomatic settlement is impossible without the participation of Russia and taking into account its interests in the security sphere."

This was the first stop by China’s special envoy on Ukraine of a European trip that will also include Brussels, Poland, Germany and France, Chinese and Russian state media reported.

Li’s trip, the second since last May, comes as Kyiv seeks Beijing’s participation in peace talks in Switzerland aimed for this spring. China claims neutrality in Russia’s war on Ukraine but maintains close ties with Moscow, with frequent state visits and joint military drills.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan expressed hopes Sunday that discussions on a cease-fire between Moscow and Kyiv will commence soon. At the end of a diplomatic forum in the southern city of Antalya, Fidan said “both sides have now reached the limits of the results they can achieve through war.”

Fidan told reporters he had discussed the issue of Ukraine among several other issues with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on Friday.

"We think that it is time to start a dialog for a cease-fire," he said.

"That doesn't mean recognizing the occupation [by Russia], but issues of sovereignty and [a] cease-fire should be discussed separately," he added.

NATO member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has sought to maintain good ties with both nations since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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