By Jack Phillips
Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed Sunday it struck what it claimed were several military targets in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, saying it used both precision and long-range missiles.
Speaking to state-run media, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Moscow destroyed a large fuel depot in Lviv. The facility was destroyed via “high-precision long-range sea-launched weapons,” the spokesman added, while also saying that a second target in Lviv was destroyed, according to the Interfax news agency.
“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue offensive actions as part of the special military operation,” Konashenkov said in a statement, referring to how Russia’s government terms the conflict, which started Feb. 24. The ministry also presented a video that allegedly showed missile strikes in Lviv, Reuters reported.
The Lviv regional governor, Maksym Kozytskyy, wrote on Telegram on Sunday that the fuel depot was “completely destroyed.” Lviv is located about 40 miles from the border of Poland, a member of NATO.
President Joe Biden visited Poland on Saturday.
“As a result of the new missile strikes on Lviv, significant damage was caused to infrastructure facilities. Residential buildings were not damaged. The fires continue to be extinguished. The appropriate services are working on the ground,” Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Twitter Saturday.
Ukrainian officials said via social media that several individuals were arrested for espionage in connection to the missile strikes.
Neither Ukrainian officials’ nor Russia’s accounts of the strikes could immediately be independently verified.
The attacks on Lviv came just hours after Biden condemned Russia’s leadership. White House officials on Saturday and Sunday morning walked back some of the president’s comments, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that the United States is not seeking a regime change in Moscow due to the conflict.
“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President [Vladimir] Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem. “In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russian people,” he added.
Biden told reporters that Putin cannot remain in power.
“Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. We will have a different future, a brighter future, rooted in democracy and principles, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities,” Biden said following a NATO meeting. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden added.
Other White House officials on Saturday evening said that what Biden meant was referring to Putin using power outside of Russia.