Russian missiles hit near Lviv airport as strikes continue | Associated press

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces stepped up their assault on Ukrainian cities on Friday, hitting a building near a western city’s airport with missiles, as world leaders pushed for an investigation into the repeated Kremlin attacks on civilian targets, including airstrikes on schools, hospitals and residential areas.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Telegram that several missiles hit a facility used to repair military aircraft and damaged a bus repair facility, although no casualties were immediately reported. The aircraft repair shop had suspended work before the attack, the mayor said.

The missiles that hit Lviv were launched from the Black Sea, but two of the six that were launched were shot down, the Ukrainian Air Force’s Western Command said on Facebook.

Not far from the Polish border and well behind the front lines, Lviv and its surroundings have not been spared Russian attacks, the worst of which killed nearly three dozen people last weekend in a center of training near the city. During this time, the city’s population grew by some 200,000 people, as people from elsewhere in Ukraine sought refuge there.

Smoke could be seen rising from the western part of the capital kyiv after an early morning barrage on Friday. There were no immediate reports of casualties or what had been damaged.

In town after town around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought shelter from the shelling were attacked. Rescuers searched for survivors in the ruins of a theater that served as a shelter when it was destroyed by a Russian airstrike in the besieged southern city of Mariupol. And in Merefa, near the northeast city of Kharkiv, at least 21 people were killed when Russian artillery destroyed a school and a community center, a local official said.

In the northern city of Chernihiv, dozens of bodies were brought to the morgue in a single day.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday US officials were assessing potential war crimes and if Russia’s intentional targeting of civilians were confirmed there would be “massive consequences”.

The UN’s political chief, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, also called for an investigation into civilian casualties, reminding the UN Security Council that international humanitarian law prohibits direct attacks on civilians.

She said many of the daily attacks that hit Ukrainian cities “would be indiscriminate” and involve the use of “wide area explosive weapons“. DiCarlo said the devastation in Mariupol and Kharkiv “raises serious fears for the fate of millions of residents of Kyiv and other cities facing increasingly intense attacks.”

In Mariupol, hundreds of civilians reportedly took refuge in a large columned theater in the city center when it was hit by a Russian airstrike on Wednesday. More than a day later, there were no death reports and conflicting reports as to whether anyone had emerged from the rubble. Communications are interrupted throughout the city and travel is difficult due to bombardments and other fighting.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed huge white letters on the sidewalk outside the theater on Monday spelling out “CHILDREN” in Russian – “DETI” – to alert warplanes to vulnerable people lurking outside. interior.

“We hope and believe that some people who stayed in the shelter under the theater might survive,” Petro Andrushchenko, an official in the mayor’s office, told The Associated Press. He said the building had a relatively modern bomb shelter designed to withstand Other officials said earlier that some people got out.

Video and photos provided by the Ukrainian military showed the at least three-storey building had been reduced to a roofless shell, with some exterior walls collapsed.

Across the city, flurries fell around the skeletons of scorched apartment buildings, windowless and scarred by shrapnel as smoke rose above the horizon.

“We are trying to survive somehow,” said a Mariupol resident, who gave only her first name, Elena. “My child is hungry. I don’t know what to feed him.

She had tried to call her mother, who was in a town 80 kilometers away. “I can’t tell him I’m alive, you understand. There’s no connection, just nothing,” she said.

Cars, some with the “Z” symbol of the Russian invasion force on their windows, drove past piles of crates of ammunition and artillery shells in a neighborhood controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

The Russian military denied bombing the theater or anywhere else in Mariupol on Wednesday.

In Chernihiv, at least 53 people were taken to morgues in 24 hours, killed amid heavy Russian airstrikes and ground fire, local governor Viacheslav Chaus told Ukrainian television on Thursday.

Ukrainian emergency services said a mother, father and three of their children, including 3-year-old twins, were killed when a home in Chernihiv was bombed. Civilians were hiding in basements and shelters across the beleaguered city of 280,000.

“The city has never seen such nightmarish and colossal loss and destruction,” Chaus said.

The World Health Organization said it verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities, killing 12 and injuring 34.

In remarks early Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was grateful to President Joe Biden for additional military aid, but he would not go into details about the new package, saying he did not want the Russia knows what to expect. He said when the invasion began on February 24, Russia expected to find Ukraine as it did in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea without a fight and backed the separatists as they took control of the eastern region of Donbass.

Instead, he said, Ukraine had much stronger defenses than expected, and Russia “didn’t know what we had for the defense or how we were preparing for the hit.”

In a joint statement, foreign ministers from major Group of Seven economies accused Putin of waging an “unprovoked and shameful war” and called on Russia to comply with the International Court of Justice’s order to halt his attack and withdraw his forces.

Ukraine and Russia reported progress in the negotiations this week. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that some negotiators were dividing into working groups.

Zelenskyy said he would not reveal Ukraine’s negotiating tactics.

“Working more quietly than on TV, radio or Facebook,” Zelenskyy said. “I consider it the right way.”

While details of Thursday’s talks were unknown, an official in Zelenskyy’s office told the AP that on Wednesday the main topic discussed was whether Russian troops would remain in breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. after the war and where the borders would be.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Ukraine insisted on the inclusion of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on legally binding security guarantees for the Ukraine.

In return, the official said, Ukraine was ready to discuss a neutral military status.

Russia demanded that NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine into the alliance or station forces there.

The fighting has driven more than 3 million people to flee Ukraine, the UN estimates. The death toll remains unknown, although Ukraine said thousands of civilians had died.

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Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and other AP reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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