By Andriy Perun
LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian air strikes hit two western regions of Ukraine bordering NATO member Poland and other areas on Tuesday, killing three people in a factory and wounding more than a dozen, Ukrainian officials said.
Local media said the attacks were the largest air assault on the Lviv region since the Russian invasion in February 2022.
The fatalities were reported in the northwestern region of Volyn. Officials said an industrial enterprise in the regional capital Lutsk was struck in the overnight attack. Several people were also hospitalised, Governor Yuriy Pohulyaiko said.
Swedish industrial bearings maker SKF said its factory in Lutsk was hit by a missile overnight, killing three employees.
Footage released by Ukraine’s state emergency service showed rescuers pulling a man from the rubble. Reuters was able to confirm the location as the SKF factory.
Fifteen people were also wounded in the Lviv region, Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said. Six missiles damaged dozens of buildings and a kindergarten playground in and around the regional capital. Kozytskyi said the youngest victim was 10 years-old.
Both Volyn and Lviv border Poland and are hundreds of miles from the front line, where Ukraine’s military is fending off Russian troops in the nearly 18-month-old war.
“The children are very scared. They were hysterical, they were shaking. One of them even vomited from fear,” said Lviv resident Dmytro Ivaschyshyn outside an apartment block as firemen dug through debris. “Thank God we are all alive.”
National grid operator Ukrenergo said power lines in the region were also damaged but that electricity was being restored to those affected.
Lviv city had been spared much of Russia’s air attacks until July, when seven people were killed by a missile that slammed into a residential building near the historic centre.
The city has generally been seen as a safe haven from the conflict, with some government offices moving there and international NGOs using it as a base. It has also been a transit point for Ukrainian refugees en route to Poland and beyond.
“These are the parts of the country where millions of people are seeking safety and refuge after fleeing the horrors of Russia’s invasion,” Denise Brown, the United Nations resident coordinator in Ukraine, said in a statement condemning the attacks.
“Russia’s persistent attacks hitting essential infrastructure in populated areas cause immense human suffering.”
At least two people were also wounded in the southeastern city of Dnipro, where Governor Serhiy Lysak said a business enterprise and a sports complex had been hit.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said civilian infrastructure including schools and a hospital had been damaged in a total of eight regions in Tuesday’s attacks. Part of the central town of Smila was left without water after two missiles struck the Cherkassy region, the governor said.
“The daily terror of the Russians has a single goal: to break us, our spirit for fighting,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, wrote on Telegram.”This will not happen.”
The air force said the strikes involved at least 28 cruise missiles and that 16 had been shot down. Spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television that incoming missiles constantly changed course to make it harder for air defences to operate.
He said Ukraine would have a 100% kill rate if Kyiv was given the F-16 fighter jets it has long sought from its Western partners. A coalition of 11 nations is expected to start training Ukrainian pilots on the aircraft this month.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Warsaw, Maria Tsvetkova in New York, Dan Peleschuk in Kyiv and Andriy Perun in Lviv; Additional reporting by Marie Mannes in Stockholm; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Alexandra Hudson)