On Monday, Russian forces resumed missile assaults on the western city of Lviv and hammered other sites around Ukraine in a renewed effort to wear down Ukraine’s defenses in preparation for an all-out assault on the east.
At least seven people were killed in Lviv, where plumes of dense black smoke rose above a city that had been a relative shelter for those escaping fierce combat farther east over the war’s almost two months.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal vowed to “fight to the end” in Mariupol, where the last known pocket of resistance in the seven-week siege was Ukrainian fighters holed up in a sprawling steel plant laced with tunnels. On Sunday, the Russians issued a surrender-or-die ultimatum to the holdouts.
The Russian missile attacks, according to Maksym Kozytskyy, struck three military infrastructure locations and an auto mechanic shop in the Lviv area. He claimed a toddler was among the injured, and that emergency crews were battling flames created by the incident.
According to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, one of the seriously damaged buildings was a hotel that housed Ukrainians fleeing conflict in other areas of the nation.
“Even in Lviv, the horror of war has caught up with us,” said Lyudmila Turchak, 47, who left Kharkiv with her two children. “In Ukraine, there is no longer any place where we can feel safe.”
According to locals, a massive explosion also shook Vasylkiv, a town south of Kyiv that is home to a military airport. It wasn’t evident what was struck right away.
Russian raids on weapons factories, railways, and other infrastructure targets across Ukraine are rising, according to military analysts, in order to weaken Ukraine’s ability to withstand a major ground operation in the Donbas, Ukraine’s primarily Russian-speaking eastern industrial heartland.
In the preceding day, Russian missiles targeted more than 20 military targets in eastern and central Ukraine, including ammo stores, command centers, and groups of troops and vehicles, according to the Russian military. It claimed that artillery shells struck 315 Ukrainian targets, and that jets attacked Ukrainian troops and military equipment 108 times. The assertions could not be confirmed independently.
According to Sky News, the strikes were part of a “softening-up” campaign by Russia ahead of a planned ground offensive in the Donbas. Gen. Richard Dannatt, a former head of the British Army, said the strikes were part of a “softening-up” campaign by Russia ahead of a planned ground offensive in the Donbas.
On Monday, the Ukrainian authorities suspended civilian evacuations for a second day, citing Russian bombardment and obstruction of humanitarian channels.
Ukraine has been negotiating passage from cities and towns in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, including Mariupol and other Donbas locations, according to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. Russian military shot and killed four people attempting to leave, according to the authorities of the Luhansk province in the Donbas.
According to Vereshchuk, Russia might face war crimes charges for refusing to let residents to leave Mariupol.
She commented on social media, “Your unwillingness to open these humanitarian corridors will in the future be a grounds to indict everybody responsible for war crimes.”
The Russians, in turn, accused “neo-Nazi nationalists” in Mariupol of hindering the evacuation.
After failing to conquer the capital, Russia is set on taking the Donbas, where Moscow-backed rebels already hold some territory.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated in his evening address to the nation on Sunday that “we are doing everything to secure the defense” of eastern Ukraine.
If successful, the coming onslaught in the east would provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much-needed win amid the war’s rising losses and the economic suffering brought on by Western sanctions.
The liberation of Mariupol is regarded as a critical stage in the preparations for any eastern offensive, since it would free up Russian soldiers for the upcoming operation. The collapse of the city on the Sea of Azov would also be Russia’s largest military triumph of the conflict, giving it complete control of a land corridor leading to the Crimean Peninsula, which it captured in 2014, and depriving Ukraine of a vital port and valuable industrial assets.
Mariupol, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, is a “shield shielding Ukraine.”
The siege has reduced the city to ruins, but Russia estimates that a few thousand fighters are hanging on to the massive Azovstal steel factory, which covers 11 square kilometers (4 square miles).
According to Ukrainian estimates, the relentless bombardment of Mariupol — including at a maternity hospital and a theater where civilians were sheltering — has killed at least 21,000 people. Out of a prewar population of 450,000, an estimated 100,000 people are still imprisoned in the city, without food, water, heat, or power.
In a video, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who was imprisoned for treason last week offered himself in return for the evacuation of Mariupol’s beleaguered residents. The footage of Viktor Medvedchuk, the former head of a pro-Russian opposition party with personal links to Putin, was broadcast by Ukraine’s state security agencies.
It was unclear if Medvedchuk was under pressure when he spoke.
According to AP journalists on the ground, shelling pounded the eastern city of Kharkiv on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring three more. One of the victims was a woman who looked to be heading out in the rain to get water. She was discovered resting on the side of the road with a water canister and an umbrella.
Putin reiterated his claim that the “blitz” of Western sanctions on Russia had failed.
The Russian president claimed that the West had failed to “provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the financial system, and shop shortages,” although admitting that consumer prices in Russia had risen by 17.5 percent.