For free real time breaking news alerts sent straight to your inbox sign up to our breaking news emails
Sign up to our free breaking news emails
Russia has launched its largest aerial attack on regions bordering Nato in western Ukraine since the start of its invasion nearly 18 months ago.
Russian air strikes hit two western regions of Ukraine bordering Poland – a Nato member – and other areas on Tuesday, killing three people in a factory and wounding more than a dozen, according to officials.
The deaths were reported in the northwestern region of Volyn. Officials said an industrial enterprise in the regional capital Lutsk was struck in the overnight attack. Several people also needed hospital treatment, Governor Yuriy Pohulyaiko said.
Swedish industrial bearings maker SKF said its factory in Lutsk was hit by a missile overnight, killing three employees. Footage released by Ukraine’s state emergency service showed rescuers pulling a man from the rubble.
Fifteen people were also wounded in the Lviv region, Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said. Six missiles damaged dozens of buildings and a kindergarten playground in and around the regional capital. Kozytskyi said the youngest victim was 10 years-old.
Both Volyn and Lviv border Poland and are hundreds of miles from the front line, where Ukraine’s military is fending off Russian troops.
„The children are very scared. They were hysterical, they were shaking. One of them even vomited from fear,” said Lviv resident Dmytro Ivaschyshyn outside an apartment block as firemen dug through debris. „Thank God we are all alive.”
National grid operator Ukrenergo said power lines in the region were also damaged but that electricity was being restored to those affected.
Lviv city had been spared much of Russia’s air attacks until July, when seven people were killed by a missile that slammed into a residential building near the historic centre.
The city has generally been seen as a safe haven from the conflict, with some government offices moving there and international NGOs using it as a base. It has also been a transit point for Ukrainian refugees en route to Poland and beyond.
„These are the parts of the country where millions of people are seeking safety and refuge after fleeing the horrors of Russia’s invasion,” Denise Brown, the United Nations resident coordinator in Ukraine, said in a statement condemning the attacks. „Russia’s persistent attacks hitting essential infrastructure in populated areas cause immense human suffering.”
At least two people were also wounded in the southeastern city of Dnipro, where Governor Serhiy Lysak said a business enterprise and a sports complex had been hit. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said civilian infrastructure including schools and a hospital had been damaged in a total of eight regions in Tuesday’s attacks. Part of the central town of Smila was left without water after two missiles struck the Cherkassy region, the governor said.
„The daily terror of the Russians has a single goal: to break us, our spirit for fighting,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, wrote on Telegram. „This will not happen.”
The air force said the strikes involved at least 28 cruise missiles and that 16 had been shot down. Spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television that incoming missiles constantly changed course to make it harder for air defences to operate.
Poland itself staged a massive military parade on Tuesday to showcase its state-of-the-art weapons and defense systems. President Andrzej Duda, the chief commander of the armed forces, said in his opening speech that the protection of Poland’s eastern border is a key element of state policy.
„The defense of our eastern border, the border of the European Union and of Nato is today a key element of Poland’s state interest,” Mr Duda said.
Crowds waving national white-and-red flags gathered in scorching temperatures that reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to see U.S.-made Abrams tanks, mobile artillery systems and Patriot missile systems. Also on display were F-16 fighter planes, South Korean FA-50 fighters and K9 howitzers. A US Air Force F-35 roared overhead, in a sign that Poland was also purchasing these advanced fighter planes.Some 2,000 troops, 200 vehicles and almost 100 aircraft took part in the parade. Poland’s armed forces have more than 175,000 troops, up from some 100,000 eight years ago, Mr Duda said.
In Russia on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin addressed a security conference outside Moscow in a pre-recorded video statement, taking his usual stance of accusing the West of fueling the conflict „by pumping billions of dollars” into Kyiv and „supplying it with equipment, weapons, ammunition, sending their military advisers and mercenaries.”
„Everything is being done to ignite the conflict even more, to draw other states into it,” Mr Putin said.