By Andriy Perun
A Russian missile slammed into a residential building in Lviv in western Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least seven people in a city that is far from the frontlines and home to thousands displaced by war.
The roof and top floor of the building were destroyed in what Lviv’s mayor called the biggest attack of the war on civilian infrastructure in Lviv, a city 70 km (43 miles) from the border with NATO and European Union member state Poland.
“There definitely will be a response to the enemy. It will be a noticeable one,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an online post accompanying a video of the damage in Lviv.
Regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said two bodies were retrieved from under rubble in operations extending into late Thursday evening.
The dead included a 32-year-old woman and her 60-year-old mother.
Kozytskyi said 70 per cent of the rubble left by the attack had been cleared by mid-evening. Emergency services said at least 36 had been hurt and that they had pulled seven people alive from the rubble.
Reuters television footage showed residents calming crying neighbours. Others helped rescuers sweep up shattered glass.
“They, Russians, Rashists, say that they are bombing military objects but they hit a peaceful house. People were sleeping. How could they do it?,” said resident Vira Luben, a woman in her seventies, using a derogatory term for Russians.
Holding back tears, she added: “World – save and help us, because without you we will not manage to deal with them.”
Ukraine’s air force said Russia had attacked Lviv with Kalibr missiles launched from the Black Sea. It said seven of 10 missiles were shot down.
Moscow says it does not target civilians. The Russian defence ministry said it had conducted strikes overnight on unspecified Ukrainian troop bases and storages of foreign armoured vehicles with “high-precision weapons”.
Moscow also says Ukraine has fired on areas over the border with Russia. Ukrainian shelling killed one man on Thursday in a village in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional governor said.
Lviv was home to about 700,000 people before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. The population has grown since then because many people have fled to Lviv from fighting and air strikes in other parts of Ukraine, mostly the south and east.
“This is the largest attack on Lviv’s civilian infrastructure since the beginning of the full-scale invasion,” city mayor Andriy Sadovyi said.
He declared a two-day mourning period in honour of the victims.
Sadovyi said that 35 residential houses, an office complex, a student campus, a school, and 50 cars were damaged.
Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy’s office, called for more air defence systems from allies and appealed for membership in NATO, which holds a summit next week in Lithuania but is not expected to take in Kyiv while war is raging. (Reuters)