Waves of Russian missiles pounded a military training base near Ukraine’s western border with NATO member Poland, killing 35 people, Ukrainian authorities said Sunday. The strike followed Russian threats to target foreign weapon shipments that are helping Ukrainian fighters defend their country against Russia’s grinding assault.
More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility that is less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the closest border point with Poland, according to the governor of Ukraine’s western Lviv region. Poland is a transit route for Western military aid to Ukraine, and the United States increased the number of America troops deployed there.
The training base near Yavoriv appears to be the westernmost target struck during Russia’s 18-day invasion. The facility, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the U.S. and other NATO countries.
The base has also hosted international NATO drills and a senior NATO official, Admiral Rob Bauer, previously hailed it as embodying “the spirit of military cooperation” between Ukraine and international forces. As such, the site symbolizes a longstanding Russian complaint: that the 30-member Western military alliance has expanded in Eastern Europe too close to Russian territory.
One of Moscow’s stated conditions for ending the hostilities in Ukraine is for the country to drop its ambitions to join NATO.
Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyi said most of the Russian missiles fired Sunday “were shot down because the air defense system worked.” The ones that got through through killed at least 35 people and wounded 134, he said.