Eight people, including three-month-old baby, killed in Odesa missile strike, Zelenskyy confirms

Russia had already confirmed its intent to attack Odesa on its way to Moldova - this strike would be step one of an invasion that goes beyond Ukraine's borders, ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith reports

At least eight people have died, including a three-month-old baby, after a Russian missile attack on Odesa, Ukraine’s President has confirmed.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at the Black Sea port city, Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down several missiles but at least one landed and exploded.

“Residents of the city heard explosions in different areas,” Gerashchenko wrote. “Residential buildings were hit.”

The death toll could not be independently verified.

In response to the escalation, Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a press conference in Kyiv: "Eight people have now died in this attack, 18 to 20 people are wounded, a three-month-old baby has died, they killed a three-month-old baby.

"This war started when this baby was one-month-old, can you imagine, can you imagine what is happening. They are just scum, just scum, I don't have any other words to use in this context."

A nationwide curfew has been introduced for the Orthodox Easter, with many churches facing the prospect of a churchless Easter - Vladimir Putin has not agreed to a ceasefire.

In regions most affected by the invasion - Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson - the curfew will run from 7pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday.

In others regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and Lviv, the curfew will run from 11 pm Saturday until 5am Sunday.

The attack on Odesa came as Mr Zelenskyy held a rare press conference in which he confirmed he will meet with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Sunday, but he did not share any more detail about the visit

The White House declined to comment on Saturday, but it is huge shift from Secretary Blinken's visit in March when he briefly crossed the border with Poland, ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy explains.

Mr Zelenskyy has for weeks urged Western allies to send Ukraine more weapons to counter the Russian invasion.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with the Ukrainian president by phone on Saturday afternoon and confirmed the UK will reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week and he also told Mr Zelenskyy the UK was imposing new sanction against members of the Russian military.

The British government was also helping to collect evidence of war crimes, and the Met Police War Crimes Team is working through evidence of war crimes in Ukraine to judge whether it could be used to support a charge of genocide at the International Criminal Court.

The PM told Mr Zelenskyy that the UK is sending more defensive weaponry including vehicles, drones and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to help with the war effort. Mr Zelenskyy has warned that Moscow has ambitions to capture other countries, after a Russian general revealed that Vladimir Putin is planning to take "full control" of southern Ukraine.

He suggested that the invasion of his country- which has forced over 5.1 million people to flee - may only just be the beginning phase of a further Russian expansion in Europe.

"All the nations that, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us. They must help us, because we are the first in line. And who will come next?" Mr Zelenskyy said in a video address.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine was assumed to be just the beginning; further, they want to grab other countries," he added.

The attack in Odesa gives us a sense of where Russia believes the next phase of the war is going, ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports

The Ukrainian president spoke after Rustam Minnekaev, the acting commander of the central military district, was quoted as saying full control over southern Ukraine would give it access to Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway state internationally recognised as part of Moldova.

Minnekaev said the plan is also to establish a land border with Crimea, a region previously controlled by Ukraine which Russia annexed in 2014, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv on Friday. Credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

The general's comments caused diplomatic unease around the world, with Moldova's foreign ministry saying it had summoned Moscow's ambassador on Friday to express "deep concern" about what was said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department spokesperson said Washington firmly supported the sovereignty of Moldova, which applied to join the European Union only last month.

The assurance came as Russia claimed more assaults against Ukrainian targets.

On Saturday, the country's defence ministry said its forces had shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet and destroyed three MI-8 helicopters at an airfield in the Kharkiv region. These claims could not be independently verified.

People walk near an apartment on fire after it was hit during a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv. Credit: AP

Russian forces have been constantly shelling all the Ukrainian-controlled cities in the eastern region of Luhansk, the region's governor Serhiy Haidai said.

Mr Haidai confirmed that two people were killed by Russian shelling in the city of Popasna.

Separately, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synehubov said on Saturday that two people had been killed and 19 more injured by Russian shelling.

Despite continuing attacks from Moscow, the latest intelligence update from the Ministry of Defence says Russian forces have made no major gains in the last day due to effective Ukrainian counter-attacks.

It says Russia's air and naval forces "have not established control in either domain owing to the effectiveness of Ukraine's air and sea defence reducing their ability to make notable progress".

Russia reported on Friday that one serviceman was killed and 27 others were left missing after the fire on board the warship Moskva, which sank a week ago following what the Ukrainians boasted was a missile attack.

The Russian military previously reported everyone aboard had been rescued.

After what was considered by many to be an unsuccessful initial military campaign, Russian forces are now said to be manoeuvring for an anticipated battle for the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east.

A map produced by the MoD shows the movements of Russian troops as Moscow re-focuses its offensive.

Ukrainian officials have reported that Moscow had shifted a dozen military units from the shattered southern port of Mariupol- which Russia has claimed near-total control over- to eastern Ukraine.

More than 100,000 people are believed to still be trapped in the besieged city, with little food, water or heat.

On Friday, satellite images emerged which showed a second possible mass grave site in a town near Mariupol, where Ukrainian defenders are holed up in a steel plant.

In an update, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Saturday that Russian forces have resumed air strikes on the Azovstal steel works. "The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area," he said.

Arestovych's claim has not been independently verified, but if confirmed, the attacks would seem to indicate another shift in Russian tactics, as Putin called off the military assault on the steel works on Thursday.

As diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the war go on, UN Secretary General António Guterres has announced he will visit the Russian and Ukrainian leaders separately next week to press for the fighting to stop.

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