Dozens killed and injured in Russian strikes on military base, Kiev says
At least 35 people were killed and more than 130 injured during overnight shelling at a military training ground outside the western Ukrainian city of Lvov, the head of the regional military administration Maxim Kozitsky has claimed.
The Yavoriv military range, also known as the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, is located about 15 miles from Poland, with some reports suggesting the blast could be felt across the border. Russian military authorities have yet to comment on or confirm the strike.
According to Kozitsky, by noon on Sunday all fires on the center’s territory had been extinguished, and explosives technicians and other specialists were inspecting the site.
“I must say that, unfortunately, that we lost more heroes: 35 people died as a result of the shelling of the peacekeeping and security center. Another 134 with injuries of varying severity have been hospitalized,” Kozitsky wrote on Telegram.
He claimed that the airstrike was “carried out from the Black and Azov Seas” with aircraft taking off from Saratov airport.
“In total, the occupiers fired more than 30 missiles. The Ukrainian air defense system responded,” Kozitsky said, also claiming that Ukrainian forces had “shot down some of the missiles in the air.”
Kozitsky repeated Ukraine’s request for NATO “to close the sky over Ukraine” by implementing a no-fly zone, or alternatively, to provide the country with military planes.
He stressed that with shelling “approaching the borders of NATO countries,” this is the “crucial moment” to fulfill Kiev’s request. NATO has so far refused to impose a no-fly zone, saying it would lead to direct confrontation with Moscow.
Earlier on Sunday, Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Alexey Reznikov said there were some foreign instructors working at the center. He called the shelling a “terrorist attack” on peace and security near the EU-NATO border.
Moscow launched a large-scale assault against its neighbor on February 24 with a stated goal of “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” Ukraine in order to protect the Donbass republics and to defend Russia’s own security amid NATO’s expansion eastwards.
The Russian military has claimed it is only targeting military installations and accused Ukrainian nationalists of “using civilians as cover” and human shields.
Kiev considers the attack unprovoked and unjustified and Western nations implemented unprecedented sanctions on Moscow in the wake of the attack.