Seven killed as safe haven of Lviv targeted by Russian forces
At least seven people have been killed and others injured as the Ukrainian city of Lviv was targeted for only the second time since the conflict with Russia began.
Five missile strikes hit targets in the western city, which has previously been considered safer than places in the east – or the capital, Kyiv.
Lviv's regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said six people were killed and another eight, including a child, were wounded by four Russian missile strikes, thought to have been fired from the Black Sea.
He said three hit military infrastructure facilities and one struck a tyre shop, and that emergency teams were putting out fires. Lviv, which has become home to many people who have fled other parts of Ukraine, has experienced a number of air raid warnings in recent days, but this is the first time it has experienced a direct attack on civilian targets. Last month, a fuel storage facility and a factory on the edge of the city was attacked, injuring five people, but no-one was killed.
The attack was one of a total of 315 targets in Ukraine overnight, according to Russian state media.
The increased strikes have come in retaliation for the sinking of Russian war ship the Moskva, last week. Military analysts say Russia is also increasing its strikes on weapons factories, railways and other infrastructure targets across Ukraine to wear down the country's ability to resist a major ground offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern industrial heartland.
Later, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi put the toll at seven dead and 11 wounded, including one child.
This comes as Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ally in Ukraine, who was captured by Ukrainian forces last week, called for the two governments to use him in a swap with prisoners taken during the siege of Mariupol. The city, which has been essentially reduced to rubble during the seven weeks it has been under siege from Russian forces, is still holding out, however foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said that it essentially does not exist any more.
At least 21,000 people, by Ukrainian estimates, have been killed in attacks n the city, which has seen the shelling of a theatre where civilians – including many children – were sheltering and the bombing of a maternity hospital.
The fall of Mariupol would give Moscow its biggest victory of the war. But a few thousand fighters, by Russia's estimate, are holding on to the giant four-square-mile Azovstal steel mill.
"We will fight absolutely to the end, to the win, in this war," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal vowed on Sunday.
He said Ukraine is prepared to end the war through diplomacy if possible "but we do not have intention to surrender".
Many Mariupol civilians, including children, are also sheltering at the Azovstal plant, Mikhail Vershinin, head of the city's patrol police, told Mariupol television. He said they are hiding from Russian shelling and from any occupying Russian soldiers.
Mr Medvedchuk, who was seeing making the request for a swap in video footage published by Ukraine's state security service SBU, is a friend of Mr Putin, who is his daughter’s godfather.
If Russia captures Mariupol, it will free up troops to focus on Donbas. It would allow Russia to fully secure a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, and deprive Ukraine of a major port and its prized industrial assets.
"We are doing everything to ensure the defence" of eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation.
The creation of humanitarian corridors for evacuations of civilians has been abandoned for the second day in a row after Ukrainian and Russian officials failed to agree a plan.
"For security reasons, it was decided not to open humanitarian corridors today," Ukraine's deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.
"In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes."
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