Ukraine Says It Stopped Air Attacks on Odesa, While British and Dutch Jets Go after Russian Bombers

AP Photo/Libkos
A Ukrainian soldier watches a Grad multiple launch rocket system firing shells with flyers near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia launched three waves of drones and missiles against the southern Ukraine port city of Odesa, officials said Monday, though the Ukrainian air force said it intercepted all the airborne weapons fired during the nighttime attacks.

Falling debris from the interceptions of 15 Shahed drones and eight Kalibr missiles damaged a residential building, a supermarket and a dormitory of an educational facility in the city, Odesa Gov. Oleh Kiper said.

Two employees of the supermarket were hospitalized, Kiper said. Video showed a huge blaze at the store during the night and, the next day, the large building’s charred and mangled wreckage.

Meanwhile, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, rebuked critics who suggest a 2 1/2-month-old counteroffensive aimed at dislodging Russian forces from occupied areas of Ukraine should be advancing more quickly.

The Ukrainian army does not intend to engage in conspicuous “large-scale battles” against the Russians as the operation moves forward, Podolyak said on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

The goal, he said, is a piecemeal and systematic destruction of “the capabilities of the enemy army: its logistics, technical potential, officers and personnel.”

Also Monday, the Dutch Defense Ministry and the British Royal Air Force said they scrambled fighter jets when Russian bombers were tracked flying toward the airspace of the Netherlands and off Scotland, respectively. The pair of Russian warplanes spotted in each location were flying in international airspace.

Britain’s air force said two Typhoon fighters were launched from RAF Lossiemouth to monitor the Russian bombers as they flew north of the Shetland Islands off Scotland. The Russian Tu-142 Bear-F and Tu-142 Bear-J, which are used for maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, were in airspace that is part of NATO’s northern air policing area, the U.K. Defense Ministry said.

Russian aircraft entering the U.K.’s zone of international airspace can pose a hazard to other planes because they often don’t communicate with air traffic control or broadcast their coordinates, the military said.

The Typhoons stayed with the Russian planes until they were out of the U.K.’s area of interest, according to a statement from the lead pilot, who wasn’t named.

Denmark’s air force said its fighter jets identified the Russian bombers flying over the Baltic Sea toward the Netherlands. The Dutch Defense Ministry said it then scrambled two of its own F-16 fighters.

“This doesn’t happen often, but today’s incident demonstrates the importance of rapid deployment,” the ministry said. “The F-16s are on standby 24 hours a day and can take off within minutes and intercept an unidentified aircraft.”

British and German fighter jets were sent up in mid-March to intercept a Russian aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace, officials said at the time. The day before, the U.S. had said a Russian fighter jet struck a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea.

Russia insisted its warplanes didn’t hit the MQ-9 Reaper drone, arguing the drone had maneuvered sharply and crashed into the water. The back-to-back incidents raised concerns about aerial standoffs near Russia and Ukraine

The Kremlin’s forces have pummeled Odesa since Russia last month broke off a wartime deal to protect Ukraine’s crucial grain exports. The Russian attacks appear aimed at facilities that transport grain and also at wrecking cherished Ukrainian historical sites.

The landmark agreement negotiated by the U.N. and Turkey had allowed grain to resume flowing from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and to help reduce the threat of hunger.

Russia has since declared wide areas of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping. On Sunday, a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo ship in the southwestern Black Sea.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the ship was heading north to the Ukrainian Danube River port of Izmail. Russian forces fired shots from automatic small arms to force the ship to stop, the ministry said on Telegram.

Ukraine’s presidential office reported Monday that at least eight civilians were killed and 23 others were wounded in Ukraine between Sunday and Monday mornings.

In other developments Monday:

— Russia’s Defense Ministry said the country’s air defense systems shot down an unspecified number of Ukrainian drones over the Belgorod region without causing damage or casualties. The region, which borders Ukraine, is a regular target of Ukrainian cross-border shelling and drone strikes. Neither Russia nor Ukraine’s latest battlefield claims could be independently verified.

— The Norwegian government said Norway-based Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace will provide a newly developed anti-drone system to Ukraine in a deal worth 740 million kroner ($71 million). Russia has made frequent use of drones, especially Iranian-made Shahed drones, to pound Ukrainian territory.