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Ukrainian authorities say Russian missile attacks on residential buildings in a coastal town near the port city of Odesa have killed at least 21 people, including an 11-year-old boy, his mother and a soccer coach. Video of the pre-dawn attack Friday showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka. The Ukrainian president’s office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and a campsite. The assault came after Russian forces withdrew from a nearby Black Sea island on Thursday. Despite the withdrawal, Ukraine's military reported Friday that Russian warplanes bombed Snake Island.
Russia has pulled back its forces from a Black Sea island where they have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks, but is keeping up its push to encircle the last bulwark of Ukraine’s resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it withdrew its forces from Snake Island off Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa in what it described as a “goodwill gesture.” Ukraine’s military said the Russians were forced off the island by a barrage of artillery and missile strikes, and claimed Ukraine would deploy its own forces there. In central Ukraine, funerals were to be held for some of the 18 confirmed victims of Monday’s Russian missile strike on a busy shopping mall in Kremenchuk.
Russian forces are seeking to swallow up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region while pressing their momentum following the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk. The military said Moscow-backed separatists were now in full control of the chemical plant that was the last Ukrainian holdout in the city. Russia also launched dozens of missiles Saturday on several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Ukraine's air command says some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed to Belarus for the first time. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow plans to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile system.