Russian forces intensified their assault on Ukrainian cities on Friday, with new missile strikes and shelling on Kyiv and the outskirts of Lviv in western Ukraine, as world leaders demanded an investigation into the Kremlin’s repeated attacks on civilian targets such as schools, hospitals, and residential areas.
The early-morning missile bombardment on the outskirts of Lviv was the closest hit yet to the city’s heart, which has become a crossroads for people fleeing other regions of Ukraine as well as those coming to offer help or fight.
After the explosions at a plant for servicing military aircraft near the city’s international airport, approximately six kilometers (four miles) from the center, black smoke billowed for hours. Maksym Kozytskyy, the regional governor, confirmed that one person was injured.
Witnesses reported multiple explosives struck in quick succession about 6 a.m., rattling adjacent buildings. The missiles were launched from the Black Sea, however two of the six missiles were shot down by the Ukrainian air force’s western command. According to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, a bus maintenance facility was also destroyed.
Despite its proximity to the Polish border and distance from the front lines, Lviv and its environs have not been spared Russia’s bombardment. In the worst-case scenario, over three dozen people were murdered last weekend in a strike near the city. Lviv’s population has grown by 200,000 people as refugees from around Ukraine have sought refuge there.
Early morning shelling also struck a residential building in Kyiv’s Podil area, killing at least one person and evacuating 98 people, according to emergency services. According to Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, 19 people were injured in the bombardment.
According to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, two more people were killed when strikes targeted residential and governmental buildings in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.
Hospitals, schools, and institutions where people took refuge have been assaulted in city after city across Ukraine. Rescuers looked for survivors in the wreckage of a theater that acted as a refuge after it was torn up by a Russian airstrike in Mariupol, Ukraine’s beleaguered southern city.
After shelling in Kharkiv on Thursday, a large fire burned through a local market. As firefighters battled the flames, additional shelling killed one fireman and wounded another, according to emergency services.
According to the World Health Organization, 43 assaults against hospitals and health institutions have been confirmed, with 12 persons dead and 34 wounded.
American authorities are assessing probable war crimes, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also stated that if Russia’s purposeful targeting of people is verified, there will be “huge consequences.”
Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN’s political leader, also urged for a probe into civilian fatalities, reminding the Security Council that international humanitarian law prohibits direct assaults on people.
Many of the daily attacks on Ukrainian cities are apparently “indiscriminate” and entail the use of “explosive weapons with a large effect area,” according to her. The destruction in Mariupol and Kharkiv, according to DiCarlo, “raises severe concerns for the destiny of millions of citizens of Kyiv and other cities facing increased bombardment.”
According to Kirilenko, some 35,000 inhabitants had departed Mariupol in the preceding two days.
When a Russian airstrike rocked the city’s heart on Wednesday, hundreds of residents were alleged to have sought refuge in a majestic, columned theater. Their fate remained unknown on Friday, with contradictory reports on whether anyone had been rescued from the wreckage. Because of shelling and fighting, communications are hampered throughout the city, and transportation is impossible.
“We hope and believe that some of the individuals who stayed in the refuge beneath the theater will be able to live,” Petro Andrushchenko, a mayor’s office official, told The Associated Press on Thursday. He said the structure featured a pretty new bomb shelter in the basement that could resist attacks. Some individuals had gotten out, according to other officials.
The at least three-story structure has been reduced to a roofless shell, with some outer walls collapsing, according to video and photographs given by the Ukrainian military. Maxar Technologies’ satellite footage from Monday revealed enormous white signs on the sidewalk outside the theater spelling out “CHILDREN” in Russian — “DETI” — to alert airplanes to the vulnerable people inside.
On Wednesday, Russia’s military denied striking the theater or any other location in Mariupol.
According to the local governor, Viacheslav Chaus, at least 53 persons were transported to morgues in Chernihiv over the course of 24 hours, murdered amid intense Russian air and ground fire.
A mother, father, and three of their children, including 3-year-old twins, were murdered when a Chernihiv hostel was bombarded, according to Ukraine’s rescue services. Civilians were sheltering in basements and shelters all around the 280,000-strong metropolis.
“The city has never experienced such dreadful, massive losses and damage,” Chaus added.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to President Joe Biden for extra military help early Friday, but he refused to go into detail about the new package, claiming that he did not want Russia to know what to anticipate. When the invasion began on February 24, he added, Russia anticipated to find Ukraine in the same way it did in 2014, when Russia grabbed Crimea without a struggle and backed rebels as they gained control of the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine.
Instead, he said, Ukraine’s fortifications were far better than predicted, and Russia “had no idea what we had for defense or how we were preparing to meet the hit.”
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major countries issued a unified statement accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of waging a “unprovoked and humiliating war,” and urging Russia to heed the International Court of Justice’s ruling to halt its offensive and evacuate its soldiers.
Both Ukraine and Russia announced progress in discussions this week. Ukraine’s bargaining tactics, according to Zelenskyy, will not be revealed.
“I’m working in quiet more than on TV, radio, or Facebook,” Zelenskyy stated. “I believe it is the proper method.”
Putin talked by phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, who encouraged Putin to commit to an early cease-fire and improved the humanitarian situation, according to a spokeswoman for Scholz.
The Kremlin said Putin informed Merkel that Ukraine had “unrealistic plans” and was dragging out discussions in a statement about the call. The Kremlin also said that citizens were being evacuated and accused Ukraine of war crimes by bombarding cities in the east.
While the specifics of Thursday’s meetings were not disclosed, an official in Zelenskyy’s office told the Associated Press that the primary topic discussed on Wednesday was whether Russian forces would remain in separatist districts in eastern Ukraine after the battle and where the borders would be.
Ukraine is pushing on the involvement of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations, as well as legally enforceable security assurances for Ukraine, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate talks.
Ukraine was willing to consider a neutral military stance in exchange, according to the official.
Russia has demanded that NATO promise that Ukraine will never be admitted to the alliance or that NATO soldiers will be stationed there.
According to the United Nations, more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine as a result of the violence. Although Ukraine claims hundreds of people have killed, the death toll remains unknown.