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July 23 () –
The high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, has accused Russia of bombing the great Orthodox cathedral of Odesa last night in what he has condemned as a “new war crime”.
“The constant terror of Russian missiles on Odessa, under the protection of UNESCO, constitutes another new war crime by the Kremlin, which has also demolished the main Orthodox cathedral, a world heritage site,” he lamented on his Twitter account.
Last night’s attacks have caused extensive damage to the Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, also known as the Transfiguration Cathedral, consecrated in 1809. The impact of at least one missile has collapsed the roof of one of the side aisles and caused enormous damage to the inner atrium. Virtually the entire roof has suffered damage, although its domes remain almost intact for the moment.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) already condemned last Saturday Russian attacks against the historic center of the Ukrainian city, where several museums with world heritage status are located.
A preliminary assessment by UNESCO revealed, until last night’s attack, damage to the Archaeological Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Museum of Literature, three buildings with the blue emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict.
The attacks on Odessa have also followed the destruction of another world heritage site, the Cultural Center for Folk Art and Art Education in the city of Nikolaev, a hundred kilometers away.
For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry has denied all responsibility and blamed the destruction of the cathedral on a Ukrainian missile, part of the air defense system that is being used, according to the ministry’s words in a statement, by the “illiterate” Ukrainian forces.