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Russian missiles hit a fighter jet repair facility in the closest strike yet to Lviv

Smoke billows over a street near the airport in Lviv after Russian airstrikes hit a jet repair facility.
Claire Harbage
/
NPR
Smoke billows over a street near the airport in Lviv after Russian airstrikes hit a jet repair facility.

LVIV, Ukraine — A repair facility for fighter jets in Lviv was struck by Russian missiles early Friday morning, the city's mayor said.

The strike on the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant was the closest yet to the western city of Lviv, which has served as a relative safe haven since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began last month.

"Several missiles hit the aircraft repair facility. Its buildings were destroyed by the strikes. Active work at the plant had been stopped in time, so as of yet, there are no casualties," said Mayor Andriy Sadovyi.

Minutes before the strike, air raid sirens rang throughout the city. A plume of smoke could be seen over the airport at sunrise. Hours later, the area of the facility was still smoking.

Authorities said that Russia had launched six cruise missiles at the facility, two of which were intercepted by Ukrainian defense forces.

"The missiles, which were fired from the Black Sea area, were partially shot down. But four of them hit the aircraft repair plant," said Maksym Kozytskyy, the head of Lviv's military administration.

An archived version of Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant website describes it as Ukraine's "leading aircraft maintenance company." Operated by the Ukrainian state-owned defense company Ukroboronprom, the facility primarily services MiG-29s, the Soviet-made fighter jet used by Ukraine's air force.

Friday's strike was just over 4 miles from Lviv's city center, by far the closest the war has come to the western city. The facility sits on the edge of the Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, the civilian airport in Lviv.

With so much of the fighting concentrated in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, Lviv had become a bastion of relative normalcy in a country stricken by war and something of a central station for humanitarian aid and refugees.

The prospect of the violence coming here, too, is terrifying, residents of the area told NPR.

"We all heard the explosions, and once we did, we all ran into the bomb shelter," said Yevhen Halakhov, a resident of a building near the airport, who added that he was awoken by screams from family members in another room. Still, he had no plans to move, he said as he pushed his grandson on a swing set a few hours after the strike.

The calculus may be different for the more than 200,000 people who have come to Lviv after fleeing violence in other parts of Ukraine.

"We left Kyiv because it got very hot there, so we came here instead. But it's obvious now that we can't stay here, because we don't know what will be next," said a woman who gave her name only as Diana.

She and her daughter are staying with family in an apartment near the airport, she said. But the early morning strike — "the entire building shook, the glass and the windows shook," she said — had her considering leaving the country altogether, as 3 million other Ukrainians have done, according to the U.N.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian missile strikes and shelling continued Thursday night and Friday morning, including in the capital Kyiv. In Kharkiv, which has been under near-constant bombardment since the invasion began nearly a month ago, Ukrainian authorities reported that shelling had killed at least 10 people overnight.

And apartment buildings in Kramatorsk, a city in the Donbas region, were also hit by rockets, according to regional officials.

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