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Russia strikes Ukrainian base near Poland as Moscow expands offensive

Russian forces have launched missiles at a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border, in what appears to be the westernmost attack they have carried out in the 18-day war in Ukraine.

At least nine people were killed and 57 injured in the assault on the Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security, 30km north-west of Lviv, according to Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Lviv region.

He said Russia fired more than 30 missiles, though some were shot down by Ukrainian air defence.

The bombing came a day after Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that western arms convoys to Ukraine were a “legitimate military target” for Russia. The US said on Saturday that it would rush up to $200mn in additional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine.

The Yavoriv centre is a training range where government troops have in recent years conducted joint exercises with forces from the US and other western countries, and where Ukrainian soldiers have been taught how to use anti-tank missiles, launchers and other military hardware delivered to Ukraine by the US.

With the war in its third week, Russia is continuing to subject Ukrainian cities to heavy bombardment, trapping thousands of people in shelters and knocking out essential services. Conditions are particularly dire in the port city of Mariupol, which is encircled by Russian troops and where thousands are living without electricity, heating and functioning mobile networks.

“There are reports of looting and violent confrontations among civilians over what little basic supplies remain in the city,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. “Medicines for life-threatening illnesses are quickly running out, hospitals are only partially functioning, and the food and water are in short supply.”

In a video address to Ukrainians early on Sunday, president Volodymyr Zelensky urged people to continue resisting. “Ukraine will stand the test. We need time and strength to break the military machine that came to our land,” he said.

“I will not underestimate the threat . . . so I say frankly: we still need to hold on. We still have to fight. Every day and every night we must look for ways to cause maximum damage to the enemy,” Zelensky said.

The attack in Yavoriv came two days after Russian rockets pounded a military airfield in Lutsk in western Ukraine, in a sign that President Vladimir Putin was widening the scope of his assault on the country.

Ukrainian soldiers practise using anti-tank missiles in January before the outbreak of war at the Yavoriv military training ground close to Lviv in Western Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers practise using anti-tank missiles in January before the outbreak of war at the Yavoriv military training ground close to Lviv in Western Ukraine © AP

“This is [a] new terrorist attack on peace & security near the EU-Nato border,” tweeted Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov about the Yavoriv bombing. “Foreign instructors work here.”

He called for the creation of a Nato no-fly zone over Ukraine that could deter Russian air attacks. “Action must be taken to stop this,” he said. “Close the sky!”

Officials said Russia had also bombed the airport of Ivano-Frankivsk, also in western Ukraine. Ruslan Martsinkiv, the city’s mayor, confirmed the attack in a Facebook post.

“According to preliminary information, this morning’s explosions were from an impact on the airport,” Martsinkiv said.

“I remind you that the enemy’s goal is to sow panic and fear. The enemy can and will strike in the rear of Ukraine,” he added.

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