Ukraine: A missile assault on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Monday morning killed six people and injured 11, including a child, according to regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy.
Three missiles damaged military installations, while one hit a car tire repair factory, he claimed.
Multiple explosions, believed to be caused by missiles, blasted Lviv as the country prepared for an all-out Russian invasion in the east, according to witnesses.
Meanwhile, in strategically important Mariupol, where the destroyed port city’s last known pocket of resistance was holed up in a sprawling steel mill linked with tunnels, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky swore to “fight absolutely until the end.”
Lviv and western Ukraine have been less damaged by the war than other regions of the country, and the city has been seen as a safe haven.
On Facebook, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi stated five missiles had hit the city and that emergency services were responding to the explosions. He promised that further information would be forthcoming.
As missiles and rockets pounded the country, Zelensky accused Russian soldiers of torturing and kidnappings in regions under their control.
Moscow’s largest win of the conflict would be the collapse of Mariupol, which has been reduced to ruins after a seven-week siege. However, Russia estimates that a few thousand fighters were defending the massive Azovstal steel factory, which covers 11 square kilometers (4 square miles).
“We will fight this battle to the conclusion, to the victory,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We do not have any intention of surrendering,” he added, adding that Ukraine is willing to end the war through negotiation if possible.
Many Mariupol residents, including children, are taking refuge at the Azovstal plant, according to Mikhail Vershinin, the city’s patrol police chief. They are sheltering from Russian shelling and Russian forces, he claimed.
Capturing the city on the Sea of Azov would free Russian soldiers to launch a new onslaught in Ukraine’s industrial east, the Donbas region. Russia would also fully protect a land corridor leading to the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, depriving Ukraine of a key port and valuable industrial assets.
After failing to conquer the capital, Kyiv, Russia is set on seizing the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists already hold some territory.
In his evening address to the country, Zelensky stated, “We are doing everything to secure the defense” of eastern Ukraine.
There appeared to be little hope for a military rescue of besieged Mariupol by Ukrainian forces anytime soon. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the remaining Ukrainian military and civilians are essentially surrounded. They “continue their resistance,” he said, but the city “essentially no longer exists” due to tremendous destruction.
According to Ukrainian estimates, the continuous bombardment and street fighting in Mariupol has killed at least 21,000 people. In the early stages of the war, a devastating Russian airstrike damaged a maternity hospital, and over 300 people were allegedly murdered in the bombardment of a theater where civilians had sought refuge.
Out of a prewar population of 450,000, an estimated 100,000 individuals remained in the city, trapped without food, water, heat, or power.
Drone footage released by the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti on Sunday showed mile after mile of damaged structures, as well as the steel plant on the city’s outskirts, from which towering clouds of smoke erupted.
Mariupol, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, is a “shield shielding Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Russian forces launched aerial attacks in Kyiv and elsewhere in an apparent attempt to degrade Ukraine’s military capabilities ahead of the upcoming assault on the Donbas.
Following the humiliating sinking of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet flagship last week in what the Ukrainians claimed was a missile attack, the Kremlin promised to intensify strikes on Kiev.
Russia announced on Sunday that it has launched a precision-guided missile attack on an ammunition complex in Kyiv overnight, the third such strike in as many days. There were also reports of explosions in Kramatorsk, the eastern city where missiles killed at least 57 people earlier this month at a railway terminal filled with residents trying to flee the Russian advance.
Russian shelling killed at least five people in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Sunday, according to regional officials. The shells crashed into residential buildings. Glass shattered and other debris filled the streets.
In an impassioned message commemorating Orthodox Palm Sunday, Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov slammed Russian soldiers for continuing their bombing assault on such a holy day.
The attack in Kharkiv, according to Zelensky, was “nothing but premeditated terror.”
Zelensky also called for a harsher response to what he described as Russian troops’ savagery in portions of southern Ukraine in his nightly address to the nation.
“There are torture chambers being erected there,” he explained. “They kidnap local government officials and anyone deemed visible in the community.”
He encouraged the international community to provide more weaponry to Moscow and to impose stiffer sanctions.
The Russians are hammering Mariupol with airstrikes, according to Malyar, the Ukrainian deputy defense minister, and could be preparing for an amphibious landing to bolster their ground soldiers.
If successful, the coming onslaught in the east would provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much-needed triumph to sell to the Russian people in the midst of the war’s rising casualties and the economic suffering brought on by Western sanctions.
The first European leader to meet with Putin since the invasion on Feb. 24 was Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who stated the Russian president is “in his own war logic” on Ukraine. Nehammer said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes Putin feels he is winning the fight, and that “we have to look in his eyes and confront him with that, what we see in Ukraine.”
“The Lord’s Resurrection is a testimonial to the victory of life over death, good over evil,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter on Easter Sunday.