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Missiles cause multiple blasts in western Ukrainian’s Lviv

A woman is taken to an ambulance after being injured in a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 17, 2022

A woman is taken to an ambulance after being injured in a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 17, 2022 | Photo Credit: AP Photo

A series of “powerful” Russian strikes on military infrastructure in Lviv on Monday left several dead and ignited blazes in the west Ukraine city that has been spared fierce fighting.

A resident of Lviv told AFP they could see thick plumes of grey smoke rising above residential buildings and air raid sirens sounded throughout the city during and after the strikes.

“At the moment, we are able to confirm that seven people have died. We also know that 11 people are injured. A child is among them,” the Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said in an update on the strikes on social media.

“Three victims are in critical condition,” he added.

He said that four Russian missiles, which initially were reported to have claimed six lives, had targeted Ukrainian military infrastructure and that a car tyre centre had also been struck.

“The facilities were severely damaged,” Kozytsky said in an initial post, adding later that unused warehouses had been struck.

Twenty-one-year-old Lviv resident Andrei said he was sleeping when the sirens began wailing at around 8:00 am (0600 GMT).

“I slept through the first three strikes, but then when the last one hit, it was like my windows were about to break, and the furniture moved,” he told AFP.

Lviv, near Ukraine’s border with Poland, so far been spared being embroiled in the worst of the fighting sparked by Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour nearly two months ago.

Instead, the city has become of refuge for people displaced from the war-scarred east and at the start of the fighting hosted several Western embassies transferred from Kyiv.

The attacks Monday come as Russia has intensified strikes in and around the capital Kyiv further east, targeting over several days a number of facilities that produce military hardware.

Those bombardments come after Moscow vowed to increase strikes on the capital in response to what Russian military officials claimed were Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil and the sinking of the Moskva warship.

“Five powerful missile strikes at once on the civilian infrastructure of the old European city of Lviv,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

“The Russians continue barbarically attacking Ukrainian cities from the air, cynically declaring to the whole world their ‘right’ to kill Ukrainians,” he said.

The head of Ukraine’s national railways Alexander Kamyshin said on social media that some of the site’s infrastructure had been damaged and there would likely be delays to services, but no passengers or staff were injured.

AFP journalists saw black smoke billowing from the gutted roof of a car repair shop above railway tracks in the northwest of the city, around four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city centre.

Lviv in late March was hit by a series of Russian strikes that targeted a fuel depot and injured five people. On March 18, bombardments hit an aircraft repair factory near Lviv’s airport. No injuries were reported.

Witnesses said multiple explosions believed to be caused by missiles struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early Monday as the country was bracing for an all-out Russian assault in the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to “fight absolutely to the end” in the strategically vital 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine​ l, meanwhile, where the ruined port city’s last known pocket of resistance was holed up in a sprawling steel plant laced with tunnels.

Lviv and the rest of western Ukraine have been less affected by the fighting than other parts of the country, and the city was considered to be a relatively safe haven.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Facebook that five missiles struck the city and that emergency services were responding to the blasts. He said more details would follow.

Russian cruise missiles on March 13 targeted a major military base about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Lviv, killing at least 35 people and injuring 134.

With missiles and rockets battering various parts of the country, Zelenskyy accused Russian soldiers of torture and kidnappings in areas they control.

The fall of Mariupol, which has been reduced to rubble in a seven-week siege, would give Moscow its biggest victory of the war. But a few thousand fighters, by Russia’s estimate, were holding on to the giant, 11-square-kilometer (4-square-mile) Azovstal steel mill.

“We will fight absolutely to the end, to the win, in this war,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal vowed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” He said Ukraine is prepared to end the war through diplomacy if possible, “but we do not have intention to surrender.”

Many Mariupol civilians, including children, are also sheltering at the Azovstal plant, Mikhail Vershinin, head of the city’s patrol police, told Mariupol television. He said they are hiding from Russian shelling and from Russian soldiers.

Capturing the city on the Sea of Azov would free Russian troops for a new offensive to take control of the Donbas region in Ukraine’s industrial east. Russia also would fully secure a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, depriving Ukraine of a major port and prized industrial assets.

Russia is bent on capturing the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists already control some territory, after its attempt to take the capital, Kyiv, failed.

“We are doing everything to ensure the defense” of eastern Ukraine, Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation.

As for besieged Mariupol, there appeared to be little hope of military rescue by Ukrainian forces anytime soon. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the remaining Ukrainian troops and civilians there are basically encircled. He said they “continue their struggle,” but that the city effectively doesn’t exist anymore because of massive destruction.

The relentless bombardment and street fighting in Mariupol have killed at least 21,000 people, by Ukrainian estimates. A maternity hospital was hit by a lethal Russian airstrike in the opening weeks of the war, and about 300 people were reported killed in the bombing of a theater where civilians had taken shelter.

An estimated 100,000 people remained in the city out of a prewar population of 450,000, trapped without food, water, heat or electricity.

Drone footage carried by the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti on Sunday showed mile after mile of shattered buildings and, on the city’s outskirts, the steel complex, from which rose towering plumes of smoke.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar described Mariupol as a “shield defending Ukraine.”

Russian forces, meanwhile, carried out aerial attacks near Kyiv and elsewhere in an apparent effort to weaken Ukraine’s military capacity ahead of the anticipated assault on the Donbas.

After the humiliating sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet last week in what the Ukrainians boasted was a missile attack, the Kremlin had vowed to step up strikes on the capital.

Russia said Sunday that it had attacked an ammunition plant near Kyiv overnight with precision-guided missiles, the third such strike in as many days. Explosions were also reported in Kramatorsk, the eastern city where rockets earlier this month killed at least 57 people at a train station crowded with civilians trying to evacuate ahead of the Russian offensive.

At least five people were killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Sunday, regional officials said. The barrage slammed into apartment buildings. The streets were littered with broken glass and other debris.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov, in an impassioned address marking Orthodox Palm Sunday, lashed out at Russian forces for not letting up the bombing campaign on such a sacred day.

Zelenskyy called the bombing in Kharkiv “nothing but deliberate terror.”

In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskyy also appealed for a stronger response to what he said was the brutality of Russian troops in parts of southern Ukraine.

“Torture chambers are built there,” he said. “They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities.”

He again urged the world to send more weapons and apply tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Malyar, the Ukrainian deputy defense minister, said the Russians were pounding Mariupol with airstrikes and could be preparing for an amphibious landing to reinforce their ground troops.

The looming offensive in the east, if successful, would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a badly needed victory to sell to the Russian people amid the war’s mounting casualties and the economic hardship caused by Western sanctions.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met with Putin in Moscow this past week — the first European leader to do so since the invasion Feb. 24 — said the Russian president is “in his own war logic” on Ukraine. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nehammer said he thinks Putin believes he is winning the war, and “we have to look in his eyes and we have to confront him with that, what we see in Ukraine.’’

Zelenskyy also marked Easter on Sunday, saying on Twitter: “The Lord’s Resurrection is a testimony to the victory of life over death, good over evil.”


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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 5:53:29 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/missiles-cause-multiple-blasts-in-western-ukrainians-lviv/article65331342.ece