Rocket attacks hit Ukraine’s Lviv as Biden visits Poland

Dense black smoke rose from the site of the first blast in the northeastern suburbs of the city for hours before a second series of explosions were reported.

Lviv has become a humanitarian staging ground for Ukraine, and the attacks could complicate the already challenging process of sending aid to the rest of the country.

The governor of the region, Maxym Kozytsky, said the missile hit an oil and gas facility and a factory both involving the military. Both are located in housing inclusion areas. Earlier, on Saturday, Kozytsky said on Facebook that there had been at least four explosions and at least five people were believed to be injured.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said the second attack caused significant damage to an unidentified “infrastructure object”.

The explosion happened while Biden was in the Polish capital Warsaw, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, where he was visiting with Ukrainian refugees, making scathing comments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and warned that Europe must train itself in a long war against Russian aggression. .

Lviv has been largely spared since Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, even though the missile strikes an aircraft repair facility near the international airport a week ago.

Saturday’s successive attacks brought a chill to displaced Ukrainians and residents, who saw Lviv as a relatively safe place to rebuild their lives. Home to about 700,000 people before the invasion, the city has absorbed much more.

In a murky, crowded bomb shelter under an apartment block a short walk from the site of the first explosion, Olana Ukrainets couldn’t believe she had to hide again. She had fled to Lviv from Kharkiv, one of the hardest-hit cities of the war.

“We were on one side of the road and saw it on the other side,” the 34-year-old IT worker said of the blast. “We saw fire. I said to my friend, ‘What is this?’ Then we heard explosions and broken glass. We tried to hide between the buildings. I don’t know what the goal is.”

The Ukrainian said she was relieved after fleeing to Lviv, so much so that the sirens of the air raid no longer caused fear.

“I was sure that all these alarms would be to no avail. I’d say that sometimes when I hear them at night, I’m just lying in bed,” she said. “Today I changed my mind, and every time I should hide. … No Ukrainian city is safe at the moment.”

Michael Bociurkiw, a senior member of the Atlantic Council who is in the city, said the day’s events were enough to make some in Lviv prepare to move again. “I saw some of Kyiv’s cars being packed,” he said. It was a major turning point in a week, he said, as the city began to “come back” to life after weeks of war.

He believes the city could remain a target, noting that Lviv is the birthplace of Ukrainian nationalism. “It’s getting closer,” he said of the fight.

Some witnesses were shocked.

“It’s really close,” said Inga Kapitula, a 24-year-old IT worker. “When it happens, your body is tense and you’re super calm and organized.”

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