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The Press in Ukraine | Western Ukraine hit by the Russians

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(Novoiavorivsk) They thought they had been spared the war.

In their quiet, uneventful little town, 15 kilometers from the Polish border, Natalya and Valeriy thought they could escape the Russian strikes.

But, early this morning, the horror caught up with them.


PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

Natalya and Valeriy, two residents neighboring the military base saw and heard the Russian bombardment.

Around 6 a.m., a huge explosion woke them up with a start. From the window of their apartment in Novoiavorivsk, they watched with surprise and terror as the Yavoriv military base was pounded by some thirty enemy missiles.


PHOTO KAI PFAFFENBACH, REUTERS

A soldier injured in the attack on the Yavoriv military base is carried on a stretcher on March 13.

The attack was devastating. At least 35 people died and 134 were injured in strikes against the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, a base previously used by Canadian soldiers to train local troops.


The Canadian mission had been suspended in mid-February, before the outbreak of hostilities.

Since the start of the war, the base has been used to train foreign fighters pouring into Ukraine. “Foreign instructors work there,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

It has not been possible to know, for the moment, if foreign fighters are among the victims. The military base and the small municipality of Yavoriv are inaccessible to the many journalists on site.


PHOTO BERNAT ARMANGUE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A soldier outside a hospital in Novoiavorisk following the attack on the Yavoriv base on March 13.

Photos circulating on social networks show barracks in flames. Several hours after the strikes, dozens of ambulances were still circulating between the military base and Lviv, 40 kilometers away. Spared so far by the strikes, the refuge city in western Ukraine is hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

The Russian strikes in this region of Ukraine mark an even darker turning point in this war.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister announced his colors on Saturday, saying that arms deliveries to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for Russia.


PHOTO ROMAN BALUK, REUTERS

The windshield of this bus was smashed during the attack.

Ukrainian authorities today reiterated their urgent calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone over the country. “This is another terrorist attack against peace and security near the EU-NATO border. We must act to stop this. Close the sky! said Minister Reznikov.

In Novoiavorivsk, Mayor Volodymyr Vasyliuk made the same speech. “Don’t be afraid of Putin. Close the sky! As long as you are afraid of Putin, he will continue to do what he wants,” he told a crowd of foreign journalists.


PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

Volodymyr Vasyliuk, the mayor of the city of Novoiavorivsk, answered questions from journalists after the attack on the Yavoriv military base.

So far, Western countries have refused to establish a no-fly zone to avoid a direct conflict between Russia and NATO member countries.

“Putin’s army will never take Ukraine,” the mayor said defiantly. The Russians can bomb us, but they will never be masters of our land. They will return home in coffins. »

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