Ukraine Friday: Lviv and Kyiv hit by missiles and shelling

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Russian forces pressed their assault on Ukrainian cities Friday, with new missile strikes and shelling on the edges of the capital Kyiv and the western city of Lviv, as world leaders pushed for an investigation of the Kremlin’s repeated attacks on civilian targets, including schools, hospitals and residential areas.

The early morning barrage of missiles on the outskirts of Lviv was the closest strike yet to the centre of the city, which has become a crossroads for people fleeing from other parts of Ukraine and for others entering to deliver aid, or fight.

In Kyiv, at least one person was killed and several injured by shelling on Podil, a neighborhood just north of downtown on Friday, according to emergency services.

It was not immediately known what was hit in the bombardment.

Nearly 100 people were evacuated from a residential building after fires ignited following the attack, the emergency services stated. Firefighters battled to extinguish the blaze as civilians looked on.

Photos: Repair hangar at Lviv airport destroyed

Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show the Russian strike on the Lviv airport Friday destroyed the repair hangar just to the west of the north end of its runway. Firetrucks stood parked amid the rubble.

A row of fighter jets near the hangar appeared intact, though an apparent impact crater sat right in front of them. Two other buildings nearby the hangar also appear to have taken direct hits in the strike, with debris littered around them.

The early morning attack on Lviv’s edge was the closest strike yet to the center of the city, which has become a crossroads for people fleeing from other parts of Ukraine and for others entering to deliver aid or fight. The war has swelled Lviv’s population by some 200,000.

130 rescued in Mariupol

Officials say 130 people have been rescued from the ruins of a theater that served as a shelter when it was blasted by a Russian airstrike Wednesday in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner, said Friday that 130 people had survived the theater bombing.

“As of now, we know that 130 people have been evacuated, but according to our data, there are still more than 1,300 people in these basements, in this bomb shelter,” Denisova told Ukrainian television. “We pray that they will all be alive, but so far there is no information about them.”

Officer: Ukraine well-positioned to defend Kyiv

A Ukrainian officer in charge of defending the region around the country’s capital says his forces are well positioned to defend the city.

Maj. Gen. Oleksandr Pavlyuk said in an interview with The Associated Press that “the enemy is halted,” adding that “we are improving this system of defensive lines” to make Kyiv “inapproachable for the enemy.”

Despite three weeks of Russian bombardment, Ukraine has kept up a stiff defense of its cities. Fighting continued in Kyiv’s suburbs, depriving thousands of heat and clean water.

“From time to time, the enemy tests our defenses,” said Pavlyuk, a battle-hardened officer who earned his rank by leading Ukrainian troops in the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that erupted in 2014. “But our boys are strong in their positions and also play an active role in preventing the enemy to fulfill their plans.”

Pavlyuk, who has been put in charge of Kyiv’s defenses earlier this week, said that the Russians are using the same tactics as they used in the east to target civilian structures to try to break Ukraine’s resistance.

“That’s why now that war has been transformed into killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, to frighten our people to the maximum,” he said. “But we will never give up. We will fight until the end. To the last breath and to the last bullet.”