- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2022

A Russian missile on Friday struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a critical corridor to the West that had been largely spared during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and his forces shelled Kyiv in fresh attacks.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said the missile landed on the outskirts of the city near the Lviv Airport.

In a Facebook post, he reported damaged windows on buildings in the area and said the exact location would be pinpointed later. Some reports said an aircraft repair plant was struck, but there were no casualties.

The strike is notable because Lviv is less than 50 miles from the Polish border and has served as a haven for refugees fleeing the conflict. It also served as a landing spot for media organizations and embassies that cleared out of the capital, Kyiv.

The city’s picturesque center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Early morning barrages also hit a residential building in the Podil neighborhood of Kyiv, killing at least one person, according to emergency services, who said 98 people were evacuated from the building. Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said 19 were wounded in the shelling.

SEE ALSO: Russians lose morale, offensive stuck in neutral as invasion entered its fourth week

Two others were killed when strikes hit residential and administrative buildings in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, according to the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

In city after city around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought safety have been attacked. Rescue workers searched for survivors in the ruins of a theater that served as a shelter when it was blown apart by a Russian airstrike in the besieged southern city of Mariupol Wednesday.

In Kharkiv, a massive fire raged through a local market after shelling Thursday. One firefighter was killed and another injured when new shelling hit as emergency workers fought the blaze, emergency services said.

The World Health Organization said it has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities, with 12 people killed and 34 injured.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said early Friday he was thankful to President Biden for additional military aid, but he would not get into specifics about the new package, saying he did not want Russia to know what to expect. He said when the invasion began on Feb. 24, Russia expected to find Ukraine much as it did in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea without a fight and backed separatists as they took control of the eastern Donbas region.

Instead, he said, Ukraine had much stronger defenses than expected, and Russia “didn’t know what we had for defense or how we prepared to meet the blow.”

SEE ALSO: Blinken says U.S. officials documenting evidence for possible Russian war crimes

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading economies accused Mr. Putin of conducting an “unprovoked and shameful war,” and called on Russia to comply with the International Court of Justice’s order to stop its attack and withdraw its forces.

Both Ukraine and Russia this week reported some progress in negotiations. Mr. Zelenskyy said he would not reveal Ukraine’s negotiating tactics.

“Working more in silence than on television, radio or on Facebook,” Mr. Zelenskyy said. “I consider it the right way.”

Mr. Putin spoke by phone Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who urged the Russian president to agree to an immediate cease-fire and called for an improvement to the humanitarian situation, a spokesperson for Mr. Scholz said.

In a statement about the call, the Kremlin said Mr. Putin told the German chancellor that Ukraine had “unrealistic proposals” and was dragging out negotiations. The Kremlin also said it was evacuating civilians, and accused Ukraine of committing war crimes by shelling cities in the east.

While details of Thursday’s talks were unknown, an official in Mr. Zelenskyy’s office told The Associated Press that on Wednesday, the main subject discussed was whether Russian troops would remain in separatist regions in 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 was insisting on the inclusion of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on legally binding security guarantees for Ukraine.

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

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

The fighting has led more than 3 million people to flee Ukraine, the U.N. estimates. The death toll remains unknown, though Ukraine has said thousands of civilians have died.


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

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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