Missiles Hit Near Lviv but Russia Seen ‘Faltering’ on Day 23

Ukrainian counterattacks are forcing Russia to divert large numbers of troops to defend her own supply lines, which is ‘severely limiting Russia’s offensive potential.’

A cloud of smoke raises after an explosion at Lviv, western Ukraine, March 18, 2022. AP

Missile strikes near Lviv, more shelling in Kharkiv, the outskirts of Kiev under intermittent and indiscriminate attack, a growing humanitarian crisis in Mariupol: As the 23rd day of Russia’s all-out war began, there was little if any sign that a ceasefire could materialize swiftly, but much chaos across the country. 

This did not stop the British Ministry of Defense from labeling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “faltering” due to its long-term logistical problems. In a tweet, the ministry stated that incessant Ukrainian counterattacks are forcing Russia to divert large numbers of troops to defend her own supply lines, which is “severely limiting Russia’s offensive potential.” 

Ukraine’s Air Force said via a Facebook post that it destroyed 14 Russian aerial units on March 17. According to Ukraine’s Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the air defense took out seven aircraft, one helicopter, three UAVs, and three cruise missiles. 

The Ukrinform website reported this morning that “during the past 24hrs, Ukrainian defenders have partially destroyed and halted the advance of units of the 437th Training Regiment and the 26th Tank Regiment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation into Ukraine, and the enemy’s losses are being clarified.”

Even if the above assessments are accurate, Ukrainian resistance on the ground hasn’t entirely stopped the Russians from wreaking havoc from the skies, with at least one area of western Ukraine again in Moscow’s crosshairs. The Associated Press reports that Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, said Friday morning on Telegram that several missiles hit a facility used to repair military aircraft and damaged a bus repair facility;  no casualties were immediately reported. 

The plant had suspended work ahead of the attack, the mayor said, though it was not clear if specific advance warning had been given. The site has been described in other reports as being situated near an airport.

Agence France-Press reported that at least three blasts were heard in Lviv and armed checkpoints have turned motorists back from roads toward the airport. AP reported that two of the six missiles that were launched were shot down, Ukrainian air force’s western command said on Facebook.

According to a late-breaking report from Britain’s Sky News Friday morning, Ukraine’s military said the strike was by cruise missiles, likely Kh-555 weapons launched from heavy strategic bombers in the Black Sea. The same or similar long-range weapons, considered to be highly sophisticated, are thought to have been used in an airstrike on Yaroriv military base in western Ukraine on Sunday, Sky reported.

Most of the Russian offensive to date has been concentrated in eastern, southern, and central Ukraine. In Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, a rescue worker has died and another was injured after a shopping center was shelled on Thursday, the Guardian reported, sparking a fire that has burned through the night. Two residential buildings were also damaged in the attack.

Nearer to the capital, Kiev, the picture is complicated. A Sky News report indicates that the Russian troops’ advance appears to have all but halted in the capital’s northwestern suburbs of Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel. The Russian troops do not appear to have been able to move beyond the bombed-out Irpin bridge into Kiev, a report this morning states. 

Kiev’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, told Sky’s special correspondent Alex Crawford that he believes there will be an assault on the capital similar to those seen in Mariupol and Kharkiv. Crawford reported that air raid sirens have been heard in Kiev since 5:30 a.m.

There are unconfirmed reports this morning that Turkey is working on arranging a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s president, Volodymr Zelensky. In a phone call with Mr. Putin yesterday, the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdoğan, said that some issues could be resolved through a meeting between Messrs. Putin and Zelensky, and he repeated his offer to host them at Istanbul or Ankara, according to a read-out released by the Turkish presidency’s communications directorate, as reported by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet today.

In the social media wars, meanwhile, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s turn at the wheel as he weighed in on the war in Ukraine with a nine-minute video address that, as the Hollywood Reporter put it, “attempted to punch through Russian state propaganda.” 

While one might have expected a tough-guy message for Vladimir Putin from the former California governor and actor whose most famous role was not exactly a Mr. Nice Guy in the “The Terminator,” Mr. Schwarzenegger, now 74, instead implored Russian soldiers to avoid being “broken” like his father, who was a Nazi sergeant, and appealed to everyday Russians to understand: “This is not the war to defend Russia like your grandfather or your great-grandfather fought. This is an illegal war.”  

How many Russians will have been able to watch Mr. Schwarzenegger’s short video in the wake of the Kremlin’s renewed crackdown on social media in the country was not clear.


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