35 dead as Russia strikes military base near Polish border – Ukraine gov’t

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A Russian missile attack on a large Ukrainian military facility near the border with NATO member Poland on Sunday, March 13, killed 35 people and wounded 134, a Ukrainian official said.

Ukraine said foreign military instructors have previously worked at the base, but a NATO official said there were no personnel from the alliance at the base. It was not immediately clear whether any non-NATO states might have representatives there.

Regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said Russian planes fired around 30 rockets at the Yavoriv International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, adding that some were intercepted before they hit. At least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded, he said. Reuters was not able to verify his statement.

The 360 square-kilomete (140 square-mile) facility less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border, is one Ukraine’s biggest and the largest in the western part of the country.

The Kremlin did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the reported missile strike so close to the border with NATO, and a short video briefing by Russia’s defence ministry spokesman on Sunday made no mention of such an attack.

Nineteen ambulances with sirens on were seen by Reuters driving from the direction of the Yaroviv facility after the reported strike and black smoke rose from the area.

“Russia has attacked the International Center for Peacekeeping & Security near Lviv. Foreign instructors work here. Information about the victims is being clarified,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in an online post.

A Ukrainian defense ministry representative told Reuters the ministry was still trying to establish if any foreign instructors were at the centre at the time of the attack.

Ukraine, whose aspirations to join NATO are a major irritant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, held most of its drills with countries in the Western defence alliance at the base before the invasion. The last major exercises were in September.

In the weeks before Russia invaded on February 24, the Ukrainian military trained there, but according to Ukrainian media, all foreign instructors left the training ground in mid-February, while leaving all the equipment.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched by Putin on February 24, has sent more than 2.5 millions fleeing across borders and trapped thousands of people in besieged cities.

While Western nations have sought to isolate Putin by imposing harsh sanctions, the United States and its allies are concerned to avoid NATO being drawn into the conflict. “There are no NATO personnel in Ukraine,” the NATO official said. — Reuters

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