One strike targeted a fuel storage facility, setting it on fire, and a subsequent strike caused “significant damage” to the city’s infrastructure facilities, according to the city’s mayor, Andrey Sadovy.
Three powerful explosions were heard in the city center earlier and columns of thick black smoke were seen rising from afar. The sirens were heard before the explosions. Maxim Kozytsky, head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration, later on his Telegram account, reported three more explosions in the aftermath of the strike on the fuel depot, saying: “The air alert remains.”
Lviv is a strategic Ukrainian city close to the Polish border and has largely escaped the incessant bombing seen in most parts of the country during the Russian invasion. It was a surprise attack, which came just a day after the Russian military announced that the first phase of the conflict was over and that it was turning its attention to the disputed eastern parts of Ukraine.
The White House then said Biden was not advocating regime change: “The president’s view is that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House official said.
Earlier in the speech, Biden told the Ukrainian people, “We stand with you. Period.” Biden was briefed on the strike on Lviv before leaving the hotel to deliver his speech, according to a White House official.
“Now in the perpetual struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are standing on the front lines, struggling to save their nation, and their courageous resistance is part of a larger struggle for … the basic democratic principles that unite all free people,” Biden said.
Sadovy said on Twitter on Saturday that Russian forces had attacked the city, but did not provide comprehensive details. He urged residents to stay in shelters.
According to Sadovy, as a result of one of the Russian strikes, an industrial facility in Lviv that was used to store fuel burned down.
“As a result of the bombing, one of the industrial facilities was burnt,” the mayor said. “It is a fuel store.” He did not say whether this was the cause of the smoke.
The mayor added that “the habitable infrastructure has not been harmed.”
Sadovy later asserted that another blow had hit Lviv, which had “significant damage” to the city’s infrastructure. He added that the residential buildings were not damaged.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities said, on Saturday, that bus convoys that were trying to evacuate civilians were stopped and detained by Russian forces, as part of what they claimed was a pressure campaign to force some residents to go to Russia.
In a statement, Oleksandr Staruch, head of the Zaporizhzhya regional administration, said an evacuation convoy of more than 50 buses, which was heading from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol to Zaporizhia, was held overnight at a Russian checkpoint in Vasilievka, about 35 miles south of the capital. Zaporizhia. Staruch said the convoy included two ambulances carrying three children who required urgent medical attention.
Saturday’s attacks come after a top Russian general claimed on Friday that “phase one” of Russia’s military plan had been completed, with its primary focus now on eastern Ukraine.
It was not clear whether the statement implied a change in the Russian military’s goal-points or merely represented a change in public messaging.
“In general, the main tasks of the first stage of the operation have been completed,” Colonel Sergei Rudskoy, first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, told a news briefing. “The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was significantly reduced, which allowed us, as I emphasize once again, to focus the main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.”
Days after Western leaders showed their united front against Russia, Saturday’s strikes can be seen as a response from Putin and his military to Biden and the West.
The Russian military has claimed that it does not target civilians or residential areas, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
CNN’s Chandler Thornton, Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Megan Vasquez Contribute to this report.
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