The runway at Ukraine’s main airport in Odessa was destroyed in a Russian missile strike as Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country fought village by village to stop Moscow’s advance, officials said.

In a video address late Saturday night, Ukrainian President Voldimir Zelensky said the new runway at the strategic Black Sea port had been dismantled but promised to rebuild.

“Of course we will rebuild it. But Odessa will never forget what Russia did to it,” he said.

Regional officials said the missiles were fired from the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula and said the airfield was no longer available.

Odessa Governor Maxim Marchenko said Russian troops used a Bastion missile in the attack.

“Thank God no one was hurt. Anti-sabotage measures are being taken in the area,” he said in a video posted online.

Odessa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov said that the design and construction of the new runway took 10 years and it officially opened in July last year.

“Thanks to the new runway, we were expecting an influx of tourists from all over the world. Instead, we were hit by rockets,” he said on Facebook.

“But Odessa is not a city that succumbed to difficulties. We will definitely restore the track after the victory, and more tourists will come to us.”

Moscow has not commented on the attack, and Moscow’s forces have occasionally attacked Odessa, Ukraine’s third-largest city.

Ukrainian officials said eight people were killed in a Russian strike in the city last week.

Russia has turned its attention to southern and eastern Ukraine after Russia failed to capture the capital, Kyiv, in a nine-week offensive that razed the city, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million to flee abroad.

Part of Russia’s renewed offensive in the south is to tie the region to Crimea as it pushes for complete control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Before Moscow’s February 24 invasion, parts of the two Donbas provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk were already under the control of Russian-backed separatists.

In his speech, Zelensky said Russia “is amassing more forces to launch new attacks on our forces in the east of the country” and “trying to increase pressure in the Donbass”.

Getting a full picture of the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine has been difficult because airstrikes and artillery shelling make it extremely dangerous for journalists to move around. But Western military analysts believe the offensive there has been much slower than planned.

So far, the Russian military and separatists appear to have made only modest progress this month since Moscow said it would focus its military on the east.

Numerically, Russia’s military manpower far exceeds Ukraine’s. In the days leading up to the war, Western intelligence agencies estimated that Russia had deployed as many as 190,000 troops near the border. Ukraine’s standing army totals about 200,000 people, spread across the country.

However, due in part to the tenacity of Ukrainian resistance, the U.S. believes the Russians are “at least behind where they want to be” in trying to surround Ukrainian forces in the east, a senior U.S. defense official said. Anonymity is requested to discuss the assessment.

With still a large firepower reserve, the Russian offensive could still intensify and overtake the Ukrainians.

Overall, the Russian military has an estimated 900,000 active duty personnel. Russia also has a stronger air force and navy.

The United States and its European allies have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of weapons and humanitarian aid.

U.S. President Joe Biden is seeking a $33 billion aid package for Kyiv, including $20 billion in weapons, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that his country would continue to “provide Ukrainians with what they need to defend themselves.” equipment”.

Russia has repeatedly warned the West against continuing military aid to Kyiv, saying the weapons “dump oil on the flames of war”.