Russian military unleashed a torrent of assaults on sites around Ukraine, seeming to be a stepped-up effort to weaken the country’s defenses before of an all-out assault on the east.
At least seven people were killed in a series of Russian airstrikes on Lviv on Monday, which also set fire to the western Ukrainian city, which has been spared heavy combat during the almost two-month-long conflict and has become a safe haven for internally displaced Ukrainians.
To the chagrin of the Kremlin, Lviv has become a significant transit point for NATO-supplied weaponry and foreign troops joining Ukrainian forces in their war against Russia.
Maksym Kozytskyy, the regional governor of Lviv, said on social media that Russian missiles had targeted Ukrainian military facilities as well as an auto maintenance business.
Russia’s army claimed to have destroyed a big store of foreign weaponry that had lately been supplied to Ukraine.
Russian jets attacked and “destroyed” a Ukrainian logistics center in Lviv that was holding “huge batches of foreign armament sent to Ukraine over the previous six days by the United States and European nations,” according to Russian defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov.
The director of Ukraine’s national railroads, Alexander Kamyshin, said on social media that part of the site’s infrastructure had also been damaged, and that services would most certainly be delayed, but that no passengers or employees had been wounded.
According to Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, one of the seriously damaged buildings was a hotel that housed Ukrainians fleeing war in other areas of the nation.
Russia intensifies its strikes
Russia increased its attacks in and around Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, farther east, hitting a number of military hardware manufacturing centers. These strikes came after Moscow promised to retaliate for what it dubbed Ukrainian attacks on Russian land and the loss of the Moskva battleship.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal vowed to “fight totally to the finish” in Mariupol, a strategically important port city where the last known pocket of resistance in the seven-week siege comprised of Ukrainian forces holed up in a large steel mill. On Sunday, the Russians issued a surrender-or-die ultimatum to the holdouts.
According to locals, a massive explosion also shook Vasylkiv, a town south of Kyiv that is home to a military airport. It was not immediately obvious what had been struck.
According to military analysts, Russia is increasing its strikes on Ukrainian weapons factories, railways, and other infrastructure targets in order to weaken the country’s ability to withstand a major ground offensive in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking eastern industrial heartland.
The Russian military claimed its missiles hit more than 20 military targets in eastern and central Ukraine in the last day, including ammo stores, command and control centres, and groups of soldiers and vehicles.
General Richard Dannatt, a former British Army commander, told Sky News that the attacks were part of Russia’s “softening-up” campaign before of a planned ground operation in the Donbas.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities suspended civilian evacuations for the second day on Monday, citing Russian military bombing and obstructing humanitarian routes.