This article titled “Russia-Ukraine war latest: dozens reportedly killed after military base near Polish border hit by missiles – live” was written by Harry Taylor (now) and Samantha Lock (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 13th March 2022 13.31 UTC
Delegates from both sides of peace talks have sounded positive, ahead of more negotiations in the next few days.
Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said talks had become more constructive.
“We will not concede in principle on any positions. Russia now understands this. Russia is already beginning to talk constructively. I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” he said in a video posted online.
Leonid Slutsky, a Russian delegate said there had been significant progress and they hoped to soon arrive at a “joint position”, Reuters reports.
The state-owned RIA news agency said he was comparing the state of talks now with those when they first started, saying there had been “substantial progress”.
This comes a day after the French and German presidents, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz said Vladimir Putin did not show a willingness to end the war during a call on Saturday.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman has claimed Russia used banned phosphorus munitions in an attack overnight in Popasna in eastern Ukraine.
Luidmila Denisova shared a photograph purporting to the alleged attack, Reuters reports, but did not say if Ukraine had any concrete evidence.
“The bombing of a civilian city by the Russian attackers with these weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity according to the Rome convention,” she said in an online statement
A New York Times journalist has been killed near Kyiv, the region’s head of police has confirmed.
Two journalists were attacked near Irpin when Russian forces opened fire.
One has been killed, with the injured journalist he was travelling with taken to hospital for treatment.
A steady hand was needed in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine, earlier on Sunday as an unexploded bomb was removed from the window of a house.
The Orthodox world’s spiritual leader Barthomew I has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine while praising the nation’s “powerful resistance” against invading Russian forces.
Making a rare political intervention during a mass attended by the visiting Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the ecumenical patriarch appealed for the violence and bloodshed to end.
Orthodox Christianity is the main religion in Ukraine, split between various strands.
“We are watching the drama of the Ukrainian people and admire its powerful resistance against the invader,” Bartholomew said in unscripted comments from the pulpit. “We appeal for an immediate ceasefire … the war has to end. The United Nations charter explicitly forbids the use of violence in international relations and binds all the organisation’s members to resolve their differences with peaceful means … an unjust war is happening in the heart of Europe, human blood is being shed, children and women are being killed and towns and villages destroyed. Our thoughts are with our brothers.”
He then thanked Mitsotakis for the assistance Athens has sent to Ukraine which incudes shipments of Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons.
This is not the first time that Bartholomew has sided with Ukraine.
As head of eastern Orthodox Christians, the spiritual leader took the unprecedented step in early 2019 of officially recognising the Orthodox church of Ukraine, granting it the status of autocephaly or self-governorship within the communion of Orthodox churches.
The move, which rendered it independent from the Russian Orthodox Church, caused uproar in Moscow, which subsequently broke ties with the ecumenical patriarchate.
More than 14,000 people in 112 cities have been arrested in Russia for anti-war protests since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, according to an independent human rights body in the country.
OVD-Info, a monitoring site, said that at least 359 people in 28 cities have been detained since 24 February – but says the real figure could be higher.
Nearly 125,000 evacuated via Ukrainian humanitarian corridors
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said almost 125,000 people have been evacuated from conflict zones through humanitarian corridors.
In a video address on Sunday he said that the priority was Mariupol, where 400,000 people are trapped and water and food has run out.
He said a humanitarian supply convoy was only 80km (50 miles) away from the port city, and could arrive within two hours.
Another $31.5m (£24.16m) of military aid will be sent from the Czech Republic to Ukraine, the Czech defence minister said on Sunday.
Jana Černochová told TV that more aid would be provided, but did not give any further details citing security concerns.
It comes as Russia has been left feeling the impact of sanctions. The country’s finance minister Anton Siluanov said it had taken $300bn (£230bn) out of its gold and forex reserves that total $640bn, according to Reuters.
Siluanov told Russian state TV that pressure was being put on China to limit its trade with Russia, and in turn affect the reserves Russia holds in Chinese yuan.
A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainians has overturned in Italy, killing one woman.
About 50 people were on board, with one woman killed and several left injured according to fire fighters and police.
Reuters reports that the bus left the road between Cesena and Rimini on the north east coast of Italy. It was heading to the coastal city of Pescara, Reuters reports.
Western intelligence believes that Vladimir Putin’s personality has changed dramatically over the past five years, with the 69-year-old Russian leader displaying increasing and obvious paranoia about his health.
But while the shift in character is marked, intelligence sources say, there is an underlying mystery about what could be the cause – with possible explanations ranging from cancer, Parkinson’s disease, the onset of dementia or the use of steroids for treatment of another condition.
“The big tell that Putin is concerned about his health is that he is so obviously worried about coronavirus,” an intelligence source said, citing his insistence on sitting at a distance from foreign leaders such as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, or some of his own key figures, such as defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
He only met China’s president, Xi Jinping, last month after elaborate coronavirus precautions were taken on both sides.
“Coverage of Russia is pretty good from both a human and signals intelligence perspective,” a western source added. “But there is a grey spot when it comes to Putin’s personal health. What we know is that there has been an identifiable change in his decision making in the past five years.”
Speculation about Putin’s long-term health is widespread amongst Russia experts in the West’s intelligence agencies.
Similar claims were reported in the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, but ultimately there is no firm evidence to back up any of the theories circulating. Putin is believed to have had three Covid vaccine treatments. One western source said he had taken the Pfizer vaccine, although the president himself said in June last year that he had received Russian Sputnik jabs.
India is temporarily relocating its embassy in Ukraine to Poland, its government confirmed on Sunday.
Its ministry for external affairs said it was in light of recent attacks in the western part of the country and a deteriorating security situation.
“The situation will be reassessed in the light of further developments,” it added.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s government said it had helped evacuate about 20,000 Indian students from areas of the country under attack – but some were still stuck.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to hold direct talks with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy according to an Indian government source speaking to Reuters.
Pope Francis: ‘stop this massacre’
The Pope has said Ukrainians are being massacred and called for the invasion to stop, in his Sunday address at the Vatican.
Pope Francis told thousands gathered at St Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing: “In the name of God, let the cry of the suffering people be heard, and let the bombings and attacks stop.
“In the name of God, I ask you, stop this massacre.”
He also called the invasion “unacceptable armed aggression”. The 85-year-old added that bombings of children’s hospitals and civilian targets are “barbaric” and have “no valid strategic reason”.
About 1 million people are without gas and heating in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion, according to the country’s gas transmission system provider.
GTSOU said its workers were out trying to fix damage caused by shelling and get supplies back up and running.
Shelling has damaged infrastructure in Donetsk, Luhansk and Mykolaiv. Engineers were stopped from getting to a gas distribution centre in Bashtanka because of ongoing fighting. One centre in Prybuzke was shut down because of damage to equipment.
Ukraine is working with Israel and Turkey as potential mediators in peace talks.
A location and a framework for discussions is being finalised for negotiations with Russia, said Ukrainian presidential advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak.
“When it is worked out, there will be a meeting. I think it won’t take long for us to get there,” he told national television according to Reuters.
Turkey’s foreign minister said he hoped progress could be made on evacuating Turks stuck in a mosque in Mariupol.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the mosque had been shelled where more than 80 adults and children have taken refuge.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said there had not been any damage, and that buses were waiting to evacuate them. He added that he had sought help from his Russian counterpart.
Death toll in air attack on military base near Lviv rises to 35
The governor of Lviv said that 35 people are now confirmed dead after the rocket attack on the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre base on Sunday morning.
In an update, Maksym Kozytskyy said the death toll had risen from nine to 35, and that 134 were injured after the airstrikes on the facility in Yavoriv.
Two large explosions were seen on Sunday at the base in Yavoriv, a garrison city just 12km from the Polish border. The rocket attack took place at 5.45am. Kozytskyi, said Russian forces fired more than 30 cruise missiles at the Yavoriv base
The facility has previously hosted foreign military trainers from the UK, US and other countries but it is not clear that any were at the base. Ukraine held most of its drills with Nato countries there before the invasion with the last major exercises in September.
Nine people were killed in airstrikes on the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Sunday.
Reuters reports that regional governor Vitaliy Kim gave the death toll in an online statement.
The city is seen as key in any future assault on the port of Odesa, further down the Black Sea coast.
The UK’s Minstry of Defence said on Sunday that Russian forces advancing from Crimea were looking to circumvent Mykolayiv as they move towards Odesa.
The mayor of a city in southern Ukraine is the latest to have been kidnapped by Russian forces, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.
Dymtro Kuleba said that Yevhen Matveyev has been “abducted” by Russian forces.
This comes after the mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fyodorov was arrested by Russian forces on Friday, with the city seeing intense fighting in recent days.
Gove adds that he wants to look at using the homes and properties of individuals who are under sanctions for humanitarian and other purposes.
“We are saying you are sanctioned, you are supporting Putin, you have no right to use your home or profit from it, while you are not using or profiting from it, if we can use it to help others, let’s do that.”
Gove says they’re not talking about permanent measures. Raworth points out that people can still live in their home if they are under sanctions, they just can’t sell it.
He responds: “We want to make sure we can go further. In my view, it is the case that if your wealth and your influence is being deployed to support or provide comfort to Putin given what he’s doing, you have to bear the consequences.
“We’ve moved as rapidly as we possibly can. If we can use those assets for as long as someone is sanctioned, then we should.”
Kyiv has a two-week supply of food in case of a blockade, its local authority has reported.
“The city has prepared for possible actions in the event of a blockade. The 2 million Kyiv residents who have not left their homes will not be without support if the situation worsens,” it said in an online statement, according to Reuters.
Reports of the death toll in the airstrike attack on a Ukrainian air base in near Lviv appear to conflict. Some sources on the ground in Yavoriv said it could be as high as 20.
However, the Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy says nine have been killed with 57 injured. We have updated our blog entry at 8.19 and blog headline to reflect this.
A rocket attack on a Ukrainian military base is a “significant escalation”, according to a UK government minister.
Michael Gove, who appeared on Sky News earlier on and is now speaking to BBC One’s Sophie Raworth said: “We know that Vladimir Putin has no moral limits when it comes to the actions he’s willing to take and he’s pushing the boundaries in military terms.
“We’ve already seen the abuse of humanitarian corridors. The Russians say on the one hand they are allowed to leave but when they seek to leave they are then killed and bombed.”
A Ukrainian MP has said countries such as France and Germany have not gone far enough with sanctions against Russia.
Lesia Vasylenko told Sky News: “They are not doing nearly as much as they could be doing.
“The same goes for the purchase of Russian oil and gas – Germany made the decision yesterday to stop with the purchases of oil and coal, but gas still remains a big one.
“Every penny that goes into the Russian economy goes to finance the Russian army, which essentially is committing genocide of the Ukrainian people by massacring civilians every single day.”
Firms should think carefully Russia investments – UK chancellor
The UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has said there is no case for new investments in Russia.
In a statement issued alongside a video on Sunday morning, he welcomed the news that firms including BP and Shell were due to reduce or sell their holdings in Russia, in recent days.
He urged companies to “think very carefully”.
Sunak added that the government supports those who will make similar decisions, but did not go into detail about what that support was.
He said: “I welcome commitments already made by a number of firms to divest from Russian assets – and I want to make it crystal clear that the government supports further signals of intent.
“I am urging firms to think very carefully about their investments in Russia and how they may aid the Putin regime – and I am also clear that there is no case for new investment in Russia.
“We must collectively go further in our mission to inflict maximum economic pain – and to stop further bloodshed.”
Duda says that transferring MiG-29 jets to Ukraine is not possible, and thinks that having a no-fly zone could be the start of world war three.
He tells BBC’s Sophie Raworth: “Due to allied responsibility, because of that we can’t transfer [the planes], because we believe our allies could make a grudge against us and it could place Nato in a difficult situation.
“Transferring planes, or trying to defend the skies over the Ukraine against Russian combat aircraft, well this is a decision which is a strictly military one and a serious one, because it means that Nato jets will have to be sent into Ukrainian airspace and there would be a confrontation between NATO aircraft and Russian aircraft, and it means the opening of a third world war.
Duda said he does fear Russia turning its attentions to a potential invasion of Poland, if it succeeds in Ukraine. He said he believed that Nato allies would defend them if it happened. He quotes Poland’s former president, Lech Kaczyński, who said “Today is Georgia, tomorrow it might be Ukraine, then the Baltic states an after that a time may come for Poland” after Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.
“We do not want to be in the Russian sphere of influence, we dragged ourselves out of it, and we don’t want to go back there.
“I was born in a state not fully sovereign, or free. When someone talks about Russian socialism or communism, a shiver goes down my spine. Never again do we want to have Soviet soldiers here, do we want a Russian sphere of influence here. It would be contrary to our laws and this is destroying us as a nation. This is a destruction of our traditions.”
Polish president says it would be a ‘gamechanger’ for Nato if Putin uses weapons of mass destruction
Polish president Andrez Duda is now appearing on the BBC, on Sunday Morning with Sophie Raworth.
He believes Russia could use chemical weapons as Vladimir Putin is in “a very difficult situation”.
“Actually, politically, he has already lost his war and internally he is not winning it,” he added.
He says that if Putin uses weapons of mass destruction it would be a “gamechanger”.
“For sure the North Atlantic alliance [Nato], will have to sit at that table and really have to think seriously about what to do, because then it starts to be dangerous, not only for Europe, or our region, but the whole world.”
Starmer says that the government should go “further and faster” with sanctions against people connected to the Putin regime, and should offer more humanitarian aid.
He told Sky News: “They should have been in place before this invasion started. The Russia Report two years ago set out these problems, the economic crime bill was talked about a year ago and is only now coming on to the statute book.
“On humanitarian aid, on refugees, I think the Home Office has got it completely wrong. Everybody knows they’ve got it completely wrong, and we need to see change.”
Opposition leader Keir Starmer says the current scheme for accepting refugees into the UK is “too slow, too narrow and too mean” and the government should learn from the refugee crisis in Afghanistan last year.
“What would comfort me more is to hear from Michael Gove that there’s plans for support that’s needed on arrivals,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sky News.
Starmer said there should be no cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees able to come to the UK.
He added: “What I saw in the summer was you need language experts, experts with traumatised family, experts to help them contact their family back in the country, help sorting out schooling quickly, and housing providers. That was all done in the summer. I’d like the reassurance knowing that was in place.”
Starmer calls for emergency protection visas, that can be dealt with on route as they travel to the UK. “The likelihood of an invasion of the Ukraine was known weeks ago, the Home Office have been too slow, far too mean in relation to this. Frankly, the last few weeks have been an embarrassment for the United Kingdom in terms of how it has dealt with refugees.”
UK has issued more than 3,000 visas to Ukrainians
The UK has issued more than 3,000 visas to Ukrainian families through its refuges scheme, a government minister has said.
Secretary of state for levelling up, Michael Gove, told Sophy Ridge on Sky News that the number was up from 1,000 on Thursday.
From Tuesday, the majority of people from Ukraine will no longer need to apply for visas, they will just need Ukrainian passports.
Gove estimates that modelling shows tens of thousands could come from Ukraine, far fewer than the 1.5 million in Poland and France expecting 50,000 to 100,000.
“We want to make sure that every available bed that we have in this country, every available home that can be made available to people fleeing persecution is mobilised,” he said. “We know that there are a large number of people in this country generous hearted and in a position to provide homes, and businesses and charities as well. We are saying we will act with you.
“We will not only provide a payment, but make sure they have a chance for work, and get support from the NHS, from education and other services that they need.”
People will be able to register an interest from Monday. Gove does not say whether he, like leader of the Labour party Keir Starmer, will be looking to take in refugees himself.
At least nine killed in airstrike on military base near Lviv
A rocket attack on a military base near Lviv has killed at least nine people, according to the area’s governor, with fears that more may have died.
Maksym Kozytskyy had said that nine people had been killed in airstrikes on the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre military base with 57 wounded.
The Guardian’s Luke Harding, who is in Yavoriv where the base is, has spoken to an emergency worker who said the death toll could be as high as 20.
Two large explosions were seen on Sunday at the base in Yavoriv, a garrison city just 12km from the Polish border. The rocket attack took place at 5.45am.
“My windows shook. The whole house vibrated. It was dark. The sky lit up with two explosions,” said Stepan Chuma, 27, an emergency worker, who hurried to the scene with his colleagues.
He said 20 people were confirmed dead. Nineteen ambulances with sirens blaring were seen driving from the direction of the base, a witness said, according to Reuters.
A further seven ambulances were seen driving towards the facility
According to Reuters, earlier on Sunday Kozytskyy said Russia fired 30 rockets at the complex.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said foreign military instructors work at the facility, but it was unclear whether any were present when the attack happened.
Ukraine’s minister of defence, Oleksii Reznikov, has called Russia’s missile strikes on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security a “terrorist attack”.
Reznikov added that “foreign instructors” work at the military base.
“This is new terrorist attack on peace and security near the EU-NATO border. Action must be taken to stop this. Close the sky!” he said.
If you’ve just joined us it is 10am in Ukraine as the country continues in its third week of war against Russia.
- Russian airstrikes hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in the Yavoriv district, about 50km south-west of Lviv and about 25km from the border with Poland just before 6am on Sunday. The IPSC is a large military base that includes a training centre for soldiers, predominantly for peacekeeping missions. Preliminary reports indicate Russian forces launched eight missiles.
- The attack on the military base so close to the border with Poland follows a warning on Saturday from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, that western shipments to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for attack.
- The Ukrainian military has just released its daily operational report this morning, claiming Russian forces are continuing to use civilian infrastructure for military needs, placing units and equipment at high-risk objects and carrying out shelling on civilians in violation of international humanitarian law.
- Ukraine says its forces have claimed more than 12,000 Russian personnel as well as 374 tanks, 1,226 armoured combat machines and 140 artillery systems.
- Britain’s defence ministry said Russian forces are attempting to surround Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.
- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break the country apart, but noted Russian forces have neither the strength nor the spirit to conquer Ukraine.
- The Russian military has reportedly installed a new mayor in the occupied south-eastern Ukrainian city Melitopol following the alleged abduction of elected mayor Ivan Fedorov on Friday afternoon.
For a more detailed run-down you can read our earlier summary here.
The cyber hacking group Anonymous has published a message specifically designed to reach Russian citizens, allegedly urging Russians to rise up against Putin and remove him from power.
According to a translation offered by various commentators over Twitter, the clip in part reportedly says:
You are being trapped behind an iron curtain of propaganda, with your government attempting to keep you from being a part of the international conversation, out of fear for what you might find out.
The regime of Vladimir Putin has been carrying out war crimes with his recent invasion of Ukraine, which has caused a massive refugee crisis and countless deaths.
It is a terrible situation that you have been put in, but your only option to prevent the impending economic collapse and potential world war is to take actions to resist the war and the regime of Vladimir Putin.
Putin has put the Russian population up as a sacrifice. At this point, the most peaceful way that this conflict could end would be for the people of Russia to rise up against Putin and remove him from power.”
The Ukrainian military has just released its daily operational report this morning, claiming Russian forces are continuing to use civilian infrastructure for military needs, placing units and equipment at high-risk objects and carrying out shelling on civilians in violation of international humanitarian law.
“The moral and psychological condition of enemy troops that participated in battles with the armed forces of Ukraine continues to deteriorate, desertion and refusal to comply with orders are increasing,” the report reads.
The military also claims a large number of wounded are undergoing treatment but a shortage of blood supplies is hindering surgical operations.
“The reserves accumulated for the citizens of the Republic of Belarus are being taken – about 2/3 of the reserve has been redirected to the needs of Russian soldiers,” the report adds.
The Ukrainian military says its forces have claimed more than 12,000 Russian personnel as well as 374 tanks, 1,226 armoured combat machines and 140 artillery systems.
The losses are reported to be from 24 February to 13 March, according to an update published by the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces just after 9am local time.
Russia is ‘paying a high price for each advance’, UK defence ministry says
Russian forces are attempting to surround Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south, Britain’s defence ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry said in an intelligence update this morning:
Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.
Russian forces advancing from Crimea are attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa.”
The ministry notes that Russia is “paying a high price for each advance” as the Ukrainian armed forces continues to offer staunch resistance across the country.
Echoing Zelenskiy’s earlier fears that Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break the country apart, the Russian military has reportedly installed a new mayor in the occupied south-eastern Ukrainian city Melitopol following the alleged abduction of elected mayor Ivan Fedorov on Friday afternoon.
Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, earlier said Fedorov had been kidnapped and detained by a group of 10 armed men from the Russian forces. The Ukrainian foreign ministry called Fedorov’s detention an “abduction” and a “war crime.”
Melitopol’s newly installed mayor is believed to be Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council, according to a statement on the Zaporozhye regional administration website, as reported by Ukrainian media, CNN and the BBC.
Danilchenko was reportedly introduced as the acting mayor on local TV where she made a televised statement saying her “main task is to take all necessary steps to get the city back to normal.”
She claimed there were people still in Melitopol who would try to destabilise “the situation and provoke a reaction of bad behaviour.”
“I ask you to keep your wits about you and not to give in to these provocations,” Danilchenko said. “I appeal to the deputies, elected by the people, on all levels. Since you were elected by the people, it is your duty to care about the well-being of your citizens.”
“This committee will be tasked with administrative responsibilities on the territory of Melitopol and the Melitopol region,” she added.
Russia is trying to create new ‘pseudo-republics’ in Ukraine, Zelenskiy says
In case you missed his earlier address, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break the country apart, but noted Russian forces have neither the strength nor the spirit to conquer Ukraine.
Posting a video to his social media accounts late Saturday evening, Zelenskiy called on Ukraine’s regions, including Kherson, which was captured by Russian forces, not to repeat the experience of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The occupiers on the territory of the Kherson region are trying to repeat the sad experience of the formation of pseudo-republics.
They are blackmailing local leaders, putting pressure on deputies, looking for someone to bribe.”
City council members in Kherson, a southern city of 290,000, on Saturday rejected plans for a new pseudo-republic, Zelenskiy added.
The Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They do not have such strength. They do not have such spirit. They are holding only on violence. Only on terror. Only on weapons, which they have a lot.
But the invaders have no natural basis for normal life. So that people can feel happy and dream. They are organically incapable of making life normal! Wherever Russia has come to a foreign land, dreams are impossible.
I keep reiterating to our allies and friends abroad; they have to keep doing more for our country, for Ukrainians and Ukraine. Because it is not only for Ukraine, but it is for all of Europe.”
The International Peacekeeping and Security Centre, near Yavoriv, which was hit early on Sunday has long been eyed with suspicion by the Kremlin, with Russian media suggesting in the past it is a secret Nato base in Ukraine.
The reality is that the base had been massively improved in recent times by an international military effort including the US, Canadian, British, Polish and Lithuanian service members who had been helping train the Ukrainian military.
More on the situation unfolding this morning from Guardian reporter Luke Harding who brings us the latest developments from Yavoriv.
Russia escalated its war in Ukraine with a strike on a major military base this morning in western Ukraine.
Two large explosions were seen at the base in Yavoriv, a garrison city just 20kms from the polish border.
The rocket attack took place at 5.45am.
“My windows shook. The whole house vibrated. It was dark. The sky lit up with two explosions,” Stepan Chuma, 27, an emergency worker said.
Chuma said his colleagues had hurried to the scene, adding: “Many people have been injured.” An explosion was also heard in Lviv, east od the airbase. Unconfirmed reports suggested Ukrainian anti-aircraft defences may have intercepted a Russian missile.
Russian forces may have also hit an airbase in Ivano-Frankivsk early on Sunday morning, according to the city’s mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv.
“According to preliminary information, this morning’s explosions were from an attack at the airport,” Martsinkiv said, urging those who live close to the airport to relocate in a Facebook post about 7.30 local time.
Russia launches missile attack on Ukrainian military base near Lviv
To provide some more clarity on the attack this morning near Lviv, northwestern Ukraine, here is what we know so far.
Russian airstrikes hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in the Yavoriv district, about 50km south-west of Lviv and about 25km from the border with Poland.
The IPSC is a large military base that includes a training centre for soldiers, predominantly for peacekeeping missions.
According to information released from the Lviv regional military administration and later confirmed by Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, Russian forces launched 8 missiles.
The latest attack indicates that Russia is stepping up its assaults in the west of the country and may be a deliberate attack on incoming western shipments of military and humanitarian aide to Ukraine.
The attack on the military base so close to the border with Poland follows a warning on Saturday from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, that western shipments to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for attack.
Supporters of Ukraine, including the UK, Germany and the United States, have been urgently shipping thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Kyiv in response to Moscow’s aggression.
Ryabkov said that Russia had “warned the US that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets”.
Here’s our full story on that from Peter Beaumont in Lviv:
Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, has confirmed the Russian attack on Ukraine’s International Centre for Peace and Security this morning.
Citing information from the Lviv regional military administration, Sadovyi said Russian forces launched 8 missiles, according to preliminary data.
Information regarding the victims is being set up and all details will be announced later, he said in a Facebook post about 7.15am local time.
Sadovyi also urged people to not publish photos and videos from the scene.
More on the situation unfolding this morning from Guardian reporter Lorenzo Tondo who brings us the latest developments from Lviv.
Large columns of smoke were seen rising from the direction of the a military base in Yavoriv about 50km north-west of Lviv.
Preliminary data indicates that Russians have fired eight missiles around 6am.
Lviv, a magnificent UNESCO world heritage site, 50 miles from the border with Poland and a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Ukrainians, was so far untouched by the bombings.
But its 700,000 residents knew that, at some point, the time would also come for them.
The citizens of Lviv, among the strongest supporters of the country’s separation from the Soviet Union, are well aware that their town, described as the soul of Ukraine and a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism, represents everything the Kremlin despises. This could be the westernmost military attack since the Russian invasion began.
Ukraine’s centre for international peacekeeping and security in the town of Yavoriv near the Polish border has also reportedly been bombed, according to the Lviv regional military administration.
The agency said eight missiles were fired at the facility according to preliminary information, according to an update on its official Telegram account.
Amid reports of a Russian strike on Lviv, information from those on the ground indicate the military training ground in Yavoriv – about 16 km (10 miles) from Poland and home to an international training facility – has come under attack.
According to Buzzfeed reporter Christopher Miller, Lviv’s mayor’s office confirmed there was a missile strike on Yavoriv’s military facilities before daybreak.
We will have more on this story as it develops.
Reports of explosions heard in Ivano-Frankivsk are also coming in.
The city sits about 130km south-east of Lviv.
Explosions heard in Lviv this morning
Reports of explosions heard this morning in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv are filtering in from reporters and witnesses on the ground.
Multiple explosions were heard shortly before 6am local time Sunday on the outskirts of the city near Ukraine’s border with Poland.
Guardian reporter Lorenzo Tondo said residents were woken by air raid sirens for the third night in a row. But Sunday was the first time since the beginning of the invasion the sirens have been followed by explosions.
The Kyiv Independent is reporting that Lviv is under Russian missile attacks and a military ground training 40km (25 miles) from the city was bombed.
A series of photos posted to social media show large columns of smoke purportedly rising from the direction of the Yavoriv military training ground.
The reports indicate that Russia is stepping up its attacks in the west of the country.
Thousands of refugees have so far passed through Lviv en route to neighbouring countries.
Hello, I’m Samantha Lock and welcome to our rolling coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Here’s a recap of some of the most important developments over the past few hours:
- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy claims Russian forces have neither the strength nor the spirit to conquer Ukraine. In his latest video address on Saturday night, Zelenskiy said: “The Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They do not have such strength … They are holding only on violence.”
- Zelenskiy also claimed Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break the country apart. He urged capyuted areas not to succumb to Russian “blackmail” and repeat the experience of Donetsk and Luhansk.
- The town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region of Ukraine has been totally destroyed by Russian bombardment, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. A local hospital was destroyed, forcing people to gather in the basement as pro-Russian separatists took over the town.
- Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg says Russia may use chemical weapons following its invasion of Ukraine and that such a move would be a war crime. He told a German newspaper that the Kremlin could manipulate false claims of western deployment of such weapons as a pretext for its own use of them.
- France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, spoke to Russian president Vladimir Putin by phone on Saturday and urged him to order an immediate ceasefire. But a French official said: “We did not detect a willingness on Putin’s part to end the war.”
- The Ukrainian ministry of defence says Russia’s generals are uncertain about their “strategic objectives” and have been hindered by fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces. The latest intelligence update says the Russians were regrouping and trying to assess the strength of Ukraine’s defences.
- Seven civilians have died after coming under Russian fire while trying to flee fighting near Kyiv. Ukraine initially accused Russia of firing at a convoy of civilian evacuees from the village of Peremoha while they were in a designated humanitarian corridor, but later said it was not such a route.
- Satellite imagery of Mariupol is showing the widespread damage suffered since Russian forces surrounded the city 12 days ago. More than 1,500 civilians have been killed, and humanitarian aid groups say those remaining have not had access to water or medications in days.
- The rate of refugees crossing the Ukrainian border has slowed, but neighbouring countries are still struggling to provide shelter for the estimated 2.6 million who have fled since the Russians invaded last month. About 13,000 refugees were evacuated through humanitarian corridors today.
- British people who open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion will get £350 a month ($456) under a “cash for accommodation” scheme, as ministers try to make amends for the UK’s chaotic response to the crisis.
- Ukrainian officials informed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, that Russia was planning to take “full and permanent” control of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant – an allegation that Russia denies.
- People have taken to the streets of cities all over the world to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including in Berlin, Warsaw, London, New York and Los Angeles.
- US president Joe Biden has authorised $200m in weapons and other assistance for Ukraine, the White House has said.
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