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Russian forces advance in eastern Ukraine, strike military base in west -reports

Randy Mancini 5 Mar 13
People fleeing the town of Irpin outside of Kyiv
Ukrainian servicemen walk near a destroyed bridge as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

March 13, 2022

By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian forces launched a missile attack on a large Ukrainian military facility near the Polish border on Sunday, Ukrainian officials said, in what appeared to be the westernmost attack of the war.

“The occupiers launched an air strike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security” in Yavoriv, the Lviv regional military administration said in a statement. “According to preliminary data, they fired eight missiles.”

Reuters was unable immediately to verify the report and Russia offered no immediate comment.

Initial reports indicated “there are no dead, but information about the injured and wounded is being clarified,” said Anton Mironovich, spokesman for the Academy of Land Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, according to Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Nineteen ambulances with sirens on were seen by Reuters driving from the direction of the Yaroviv facility after the strike.

The 360 square-km (140 square-mile) facility less than 25 km (15 miles) from the Polish border, is one Ukraine’s biggest and the largest in the western part of the country.

Ukraine held most of its drills with NATO countries there before the invasion. The last major exercises were in September.

The mayor of another city in western Ukraine, Ivano-Frankivsk, said Russian troops also continued to hit its airport, with no initial reports of casualties.

In eastern Ukraine, Russian troops are trying to surround Ukrainian forces as they advance from Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south, the UK Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

“Russian forces advancing from Crimea are attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odessa,” the ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.

Air raid sirens again woke residents in Kyiv on Sunday morning, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned Russian forces they face a fight to the death if they try to occupy the capital.

“If they decide to carpet bomb and simply erase the historyof this region … and destroy all of us, then they will enterKyiv. If that’s their goal, let them come in, but they will haveto live on this land by themselves,” Zelenskiy said on Saturday.

Russian shelling has trapped thousands of people in besiegedcities and sent 2.5 million Ukrainians fleeing to neighbouringcountries.

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Saturday of killing sevencivilians in an attack on women and children trying to fleefighting near Kyiv. France said Russian President Vladimir Putinhad shown no readiness to make peace.

The Ukrainian intelligence service said the seven, includingone child, were killed as they fled the village of Peremoha andthat “the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turnback.”

Reuters was unable immediately to verify the report andRussia offered no immediate comment.

Moscow denies targeting civilians since invading Ukraine onFeb. 24. It blames Ukraine for failed attempts to evacuatecivilians from encircled cities, an accusation Ukraine and itsWestern allies strongly reject.

‘NEED TO HOLD ON’

“We still need to hold on. We still have to fight,”Zelenskiy said in a video address late on Saturday, his secondof the day.

The United States said it would rush up to $200 million inadditional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons toUkraine, where officials have pleaded for more military aid.

The Kremlin describes its actions as a “special operation” to demilitarise and “deNazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused theUnited States of escalating tensions and said the situation hadbeen complicated by convoys of Western arms shipments to Ukrainethat Russian forces considered “legitimate targets”.

In comments reported by the Tass news agency, Ryabkov madeno specific threat. Any attack on such convoys before theyreached Ukraine would risk widening the war.

Crisis talks between Moscow and Kyiv have been continuing byvideo link, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, accordingto Russia’s RIA news agency. He gave no details, but UkrainianForeign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv would not surrender oraccept any ultimatums.

Russian troops have destroyed 3,687 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities so far, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Sunday. It was not possible to independently verify his statement.

The Donetsk region’s governor said constant shelling wascomplicating bringing aid into Mariupol. Fires were burning inthe western section of the city and dozens of apartmentbuildings heavily damaged, according to images taken on Saturdayby private U.S. satellite firm Maxar.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Philippa Fletcher, Timothy Heritage, Matt Spetalnick and Michael Perry; Editing by William Mallard and Philippa Fletcher)