Russia strikes Ukrainian base near Poland as Moscow expands offensive

Russian forces launched missiles at a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border, in what appeared to be the westernmost attack they have carried out in the 18-day war.

A statement from the Lviv regional military administration said Russian forces “launched an air strike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security”, which is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine.

“According to preliminary data, they fired eight missiles,” the administration said in a statement. It said it would release additional details about the attack later.

The bombing came a day after Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that western arms convoys to Ukraine were a “legitimate military target” for Russia. The US said on Saturday that it would rush up to $ 200mn in additional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine.

With the war in its third week, Russia is continuing to subject Ukrainian cities to heavy bombardment, trapping thousands of people in shelters. Conditions are particularly dire in the port city of Mariupol, which is completely encircled by Russian troops and has been subjected to intense shelling that has knocked out electricity and mobile networks.

“There are reports of looting and violent confrontations among civilians over what little basic supplies remain in the city,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. “Medicines for life-threatening illnesses are quickly running out, hospitals are only partially functioning, and the food and water are in short supply.”

In a video address to Ukrainians early on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged people to keep resisting. Ukraine will stand the test. We need time and strength to break the military machine that came to our country, ”he said.

“I will not underestimate the threat. . . so I say frankly: we still need to hold on. We still have to fight. Every day and every night we must look for ways to cause maximum damage to the enemy, ”Zelensky said.

The facility targeted in Sunday’s attack is a training range in western Ukraine 30km north-west of Lviv where government troops have in the past few years conducted joint exercises with forces from the US and other western countries.

Ukrainian soldiers are also trained to NATO standards at the facility and have been taught how to use anti-tank missiles, launchers and other military hardware delivered to Ukraine by the US.

The attack came two days after Russian rockets pounded a military airfield in Lutsk in western Ukraine, in a sign that President Vladimir Putin was widening the scope of his assault.

Ukrainian soldiers practice how to use NLAW anti-tank missiles in January before the outbreak of war at the Yavoriv military training ground close to Lviv in Western Ukraine. © AP

Officials said Russia had also bombed the airport of Ivano-Frankivsk, also in western Ukraine. Ruslan Martsinkiv, the city’s mayor, confirmed the attack in a Facebook post.

“According to preliminary information, this morning’s explosions were from an impact on the airport,” Martsinkiv said.

“I remind you that the enemy’s goal is to sow panic and fear. The enemy can and will strike in the rear of Ukraine, ”he added.

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