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Overnight missile strikes have killed at least 7 in Lviv, Ukraine


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces have launched their anticipated attack on eastern Ukraine. There's been a gradual escalation in attacks there over the past several days. Today started, though, with a surprise attack in the west, with at least five rockets fired on Lviv. It's the city that had been refuge for tens of thousands of civilians trying to flee to safety. NPR's Franco Ordoñez is in Ukraine. Hi, Franco.


ESTRIN: So, Franco, this is a big development. Lviv looks secure on a map. It's about the furthest you can get from the Russian border. A senior U.S. defense official told reporters today that these were Russian cruise missiles from long-range bombers. But from where you are, how significant are these attacks in Lviv?

ORDOÑEZ: You know, I'd say very. You know, this has been one of the calmest areas of the country throughout the conflict. I mean, the mayor of Lviv, though, Andriy Sadovyi, said the attacks show that really there are no, quote, "safe" areas in Ukraine.


ANDRIY SADOVYI: (Through interpreter) What we see in Ukraine today is genocide, which is purposefully carried out by an aggressor who kills civilians. Seven civilians had plans for life. Today their life is over.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, he went on to say that more than 200,000 Ukrainians have fled to Lviv for safety, and actually more than a hundred embassies have also moved to the city.

ESTRIN: Right. What's the sense in the city now?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, people are scared. I mean, there are already a lot of internally displaced people there. But, you know, it's been kind of a area that has been considered safe. The closest attacks were about three weeks ago when Russian rockets hit the outskirts of Lviv. But this morning, the city was covered in black smoke for several hours. And people are arriving every day. My colleague Yevgen Afanasiev (ph) spoke with a young mother, Yulia, who arrived in Lviv today with her daughter Ania, who is 5. They fled the Dnipro region, trying to get away from this kind of violence.

YULIA: (Speaking Ukrainian).

ANIA: (Speaking Ukrainian).

YULIA: (Speaking Ukrainian).

ORDOÑEZ: Yulia's saying that they had to leave behind her husband, Ania's father. And that second little voice there is Ania, of course, who jumped in to add that they also had to leave their cat. You know, Yulia is still a bit shaken up. She saw what was left of that attack from the train.

YULIA: (Speaking Ukrainian).

ORDOÑEZ: She's saying there as they passed by the train, she realized that if the train had been on time and hadn't been delayed, the missile could have hit her and her daughter.

ESTRIN: Wow. NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Thanks, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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