Dozens of people were killed yesterday in a missile strike near Ukraine’s border with NATO member Poland in the most westerly attack ever by Russian forces.
The deadly strike came less than 24 hours after Russian threats to target foreign arms shipments helping Ukrainian fighters defend their country.
More than 30 missiles targeted a training center in Yavoriv, less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border, according to the governor of Lviv region in western Ukraine. More than 130 people were injured.
He also reported new Russian attacks in western Ukraine. Since its invasion, Lviv has been largely spared the scale of the destruction that unfolded further east and has become a destination for residents fleeing the bombed cities and for many of the estimated 2.6 million refugees who have fled the country.
The training center appears to be the westernmost target hit so far in the 18-day conflict. Poland is also a transit route for Western military aid to Ukraine. An attack so close to the border is fraught with symbolism in a war that has rekindled the Cold War rivalries that gave birth to NATO and threatens to rewrite the current global security order.
Russia claimed to have killed “up to 180 foreign mercenaries” and destroyed a large amount of weapons supplied by foreign countries in the attack.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing that Russia would continue such attacks.
The facility, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the United States and other NATO nations. . It has also hosted international NATO exercises.
Polish President Andrzej Duda told the BBC on Sunday that he believed Russia could use chemical weapons because Vladimir Putin is in “a very difficult situation”, adding that it would be a game-changer.
“In fact, politically he has already lost his war and internally he is not winning it,” he added.
“Certainly the North Atlantic alliance will have to sit down at this table and think seriously about what to do, because then it starts to be dangerous, not only for Europeor our region, but the whole world.
Irrespective of Russian threats over Western weapons destined for Ukraine, the Czech Republic announced on Sunday that it would send an additional £24 million in military aid to Ukraine.
Russian fighters also continued their attacks on an airport in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk, less than 150 kilometers (94 miles) north of Romania, another NATO country.
Fighting also raged in several parts of the country on Sunday. Ukrainian authorities said Russian airstrikes on a monastery and children’s resort in the eastern region of Donetsk hit places where monks and refugees had taken refuge, injuring 32 people.
Another airstrike hit a westbound train evacuating people from the east, killing one person and injuring another, the chief regional administrator for Donetsk said. To the north, in the town of Chernihiv, one person was killed and another injured in a Russian airstrike that destroyed a residential building, emergency services said.
Around the capital, Kyiv, fighting has also intensified, with nighttime shelling in the northwestern suburbs and a missile strike that destroyed a warehouse. Chief regional administrator Oleksiy Kuleba said Russian forces appeared to be trying to blockade and paralyze the capital before any full assault.
“We are preparing to defend Kyiv and we are ready to fight for ourselves,” he said.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia would have to raze the city “to the ground” to capture it.
Brent Renaud, an American journalist, was killed in clashes on Sunday. The award-winning American filmmaker and former collaborator of the New York Timeswas shot dead by Russian forces in Irpin, near the capital, Ukrainian authorities said.
Elsewhere, Russian soldiers looted a humanitarian convoy trying to reach the battered and surrounded port city of Mariupol, where 2,187 people have been killed in the fighting so far, a Ukrainian official said on Sunday.
The Ukrainian military said Russian forces captured the eastern outskirts of Mariupol, tightening their siege of the strategic port. Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Sea of Azov could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Many civilians were caught in the barrage and Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said on Sunday that at least 85 children had been killed across the country in the war so far.
President Zelensky accused Russia of trying to break up his country, as well as starting “a new stage of terror” with the alleged detention of a mayor of a town west of Mariupol.
“Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to smash the war machine that has come to our land,” Mr. Zelensky said during his nightly address to the nation on Saturday.
Sporadic small protests against the war continued in Russia, resulting in several arrests.
In Italy, one person died and several were injured after a bus carrying 50 Ukrainians overturned.
In his Sunday address at the Vatican, the pope called on Russia to stop its invasion.
“In the name of God, I ask you, stop this massacre,” he said.