Ukraine: Clouds of smoke rise from Lviv following explosions
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As many as six cruise missiles struck residential areas and military sites on Saturday in west Ukraine, which had been thought to be a safe haven. The bombardment came as US President Joe Biden visited neighbouring Poland and just a day after the Kremlin had claimed it was moving its assault east. At least five people were said to have been injured in Lviv. Fireballs could be seen rising into the sky at an oil and fuel storage plant while a food storage depot was destroyed too. Horrified citizens suddenly found themselves under heavy rocket fire. Some hid in makeshift shelters in sewers as missiles rained down. Russian jets targeted civilian areas as well as military sites, just 50 miles from the Polish border.
Andriy Sadovyi, the city’s mayor, said missiles were also fired from Svestepol in Russian-controlled Crimea and urged people to stay indoors. Later he said another strike had caused “significant damage” to the city’s infrastructure.
Officials in Lviv said a suspected spy was being held following the cruise missile strikes. He was arrested at one of two target areas, having filmed missiles heading towards the city. Police said he had sent photos of local checkpoints to two Russian mobile numbers.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the devastation caused by the invasion was becoming all too clear.
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko said people were starving and were forced to drink sewage water in Kyiv. Ms Vasylenko warned the capital was still facing attacks and suffering food shortages. She said civilians were “made to stay in basements and metro stations”, adding: “People are actually starving without food, and drinking sewage water.”
In the strategic port city of Mariupol, Ukraine has accused the invaders of forcibly relocating civilians to Russian-held territory.
Ms Vasylenko added: “Thousands of people are getting forcefully deported across the border to Russia apparently to safety but then they are sent off in an unknown direction and nobody hears from them again.”
Meanwhile, in Ukraine’s north, the mayor of Chernihiv yesterday said his city was surrounded by Russian forces. The Kremlin last week said its troops would now focus their invasion on the east, claiming they had achieved their objectives.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again called on the West to supply more weapons, planes, tanks and missile defence systems.
In an impassioned, late-night video address, he said heavy weapons that could defend freedom in Europe were instead gathering dust in stockpiles.
Mr Zelensky complained that Russian aircraft could not be shot down with machine guns. He added: “What is Nato doing? Is it being run by Russia? What are they waiting for? It’s been 31 days. We are only asking for one per cent of what Nato has, nothing more.”
While Putin’s forces have been slowed, their attacks remain relentless. British Ministry of Defence intelligence yesterday revealed Kremlin forces are continuing to strike targets across Ukraine, including densely populated areas.
Yesterday, a member of the Ukrainian delegation in talks with Russia on ending the war said the two sides would meet in person in Turkey on Monday, although Russia’s chief negotiator said it would be Tuesday. President Zelensky said yesterday that Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but insisted it would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum.
He was speaking to Russian journalists in a 90-minute video call, an interview that Russian authorities had warned its media not to report.
Mr Zelensky spoke in Russian throughout and said the Kremlin’s destruction of Russian-speaking cities was worse than the bombardment of Chechnya.
Putin’s infantry is said to be advancing south from around Kharkiv as well as north from Mariupol, heading to the Donbas region in an attempt to surround Ukrainian troops fighting there, the MoD said.
However, Ukrainian forces did repulse seven attacks in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and destroyed several tanks and armoured vehicles, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said yesterday.
The nation’s military intelligence chief also warned that Russia could try to break Ukraine in two.
In remarks released by the defence ministry yesterday, Kyrylo Budanov said Vladimir Putin had realised “he can’t swallow the entire country” and would likely try to split Ukraine under “the Korean scenario” – a reference to the decades-old division between North and South Korea.
The UN’s refugee agency says that nearly four million people have now been displaced since the Russian invasion began just over a month ago.
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