Smoke rises in the air after shelling in Odessa, Ukraine
Smoke rises in the air after shelling in Odessa, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Odesa/Lviv: Missiles struck near Ukraine's southern port of Odesa on Sunday with Russia saying it had destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military, while attempts to evacuate people from the devastated city of Mariupol were due to continue.

There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the five-week war, although Russia's chief negotiator said talks were due to resume on Monday.

In Odesa, the city council said "critical infrastructure facilities" were hit by missiles. No casualties were reported.

Russia's defence ministry said strikes by its military destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storage facilities near Odesa. It said the facilities were used to supply Ukrainian troops near the city of Mykolaiv.

Odesa, on the Black Sea, is the main base for Ukraine's navy. It has been targeted by Russian forces seeking a land corridor to Transdniestria, a Russian-speaking breakaway province of Moldova which hosts Russian troops.

"Smoke is visible in some areas of the city. All relevant systems and structures are working ... No casualties reported," Vladyslav Nazarov, an officer of Ukraine's South Operational Command, said on Telegram.

Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, said the Kremenchug oil refinery, 350 kilometres (220 miles) northeast of Odesa, had been destroyed in a separate rocket attack on Saturday.

Evacuations continue

Evacuation efforts in Mariupol and nearby Berdyansk, both also on Ukraine's southern shores, were due to continue with a convoy of buses being prepared for the operation with help from the Red Cross.

"Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online video posting.

The ICRC abandoned earlier attempts due to security concerns. Russia blamed the ICRC for the delays.

Mariupol is Russia's main target in Ukraine's southeastern region of Donbas, and tens of thousands of civilians there are trapped with scant access to food and water.