7 killed in Lviv as Russia steps up attacks before Donbas push

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that Russia is preparing to ‘finish off’ the entire region of Donbas in the country’s east.

Smoke is seen in Lviv after Russian missile strikes in the city
Smoke rises after five aimed missile strikes hit Lviv, Ukraine, killing at least six people [Özge Elif Kızıl/Anadolu]

Russian forces have carried out missile attacks in parts of southern and western Ukraine, including in the city of Lviv where authorities reported at least seven dead.

The bombardment on Monday came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia was preparing to “finish off” the entire region of Donbas after failing to break through in the north and seize the capital, Kyiv.

“Russian troops are preparing for an offensive operation in the east of our country in the near future. They want to literally finish off and destroy Donbas,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces inside the encircled Azovstal steel plant on Sunday ignored a Russian ultimatum to lay down their weapons.

“The city still has not fallen,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said late on Sunday. “There’s still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end,” he told ABC’s This Week. “We will not surrender,” he added.

The capture of the port city is of critical importance as it would allow Russia to forge a land corridor between the Donbas and the already-annexed Crimea region.

But seizing Mariupol has been a challenge. Despite coming under weeks of heavy bombardment, Ukrainians have repeatedly pledged to continue fighting and to defend the city until the end.

While focusing on the east, Russia has not stopped shelling other parts of the country. Overnight missile strikes in the western city of Lviv, a haven for people fleeing the fighting in other parts of the country, killed at least seven people and wounded 12, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Monday.

Lviv’s regional governor, Maksym Kozytskyy, said the the wounded included a child, and emergency teams were battling fires caused by the strikes.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Lviv, cited local officials as saying that one of the Russian missile attacks hit a “car service facility” on the city’s outskirts.

She added that Lviv’s mayor had said one of the blasts was “so strong that it shattered the windows of a hotel nearby where a number of displaced Ukrainians from other parts of the country were staying”,

‘Last chance to save you’

Despite withdrawing its ground forces from some parts of the country, Russia has continued launching attacks with missiles and rockets.

In a statement on Monday, the Russian defence ministry said it had hit hundreds of military targets in Ukraine overnight, destroying command posts with air-launched missiles.

It reported destroying 16 Ukrainian military facilities in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, in the south and east of the country.

It added that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where Ukrainian forces were concentrated and Russian artillery struck 315 Ukrainian military targets overnight.

It was not possible to independently verify the information.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities have urged people in Donbas to move west to escape the anticipated large-scale Russian offensive to capture its composite regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hadai said on social media the coming week would be “difficult”, telling residents: “It may be the last time we have a chance to save you.”

On Sunday night, at least two people were killed in the town of Zolote as Russian forces shelled the east of the region, Hadai said.

Two people also died and four were wounded in attacks on the towns of Marinka and Novopol, west of Donetsk, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

In the country’s second city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border, at least five people were killed and 20 wounded in a series of attacks.

“The whole home rumbled and trembled,” 71-year-old Svitlana Pelelygina told the AFP news agency as she surveyed her wrecked apartment.

“Everything here began to burn,” she said. “I called the firefighters. They said, ‘We are on our way but we were also being shelled.'”

Missile attacks also continued in the region around the southern city of Mykolaiv, according to regional governor Vitali Kim.

Al Jazeera was not able to independently verify the reports.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies