Russian strikes destroy Ukrainian aircraft repair plant in Lviv, former safe haven 50 miles from Poland

Smoke from Russian strikes on Lviv
(Image credit: REUTERS/Roman Baluk)

Russian heavy bombers early Friday fired six cruise missiles from the Black Sea toward Lviv, a city less than 50 miles from Ukraine's border with Poland and, so far, a relatively safe harbor for civilians fleeing Russian shelling further east, Ukrainian officials said. Two of the missiles were shot down and four landed at an aircraft repair plant near Lviv's airport, destroying the buildings. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said work had already stopped at the plant and no casualties had been reported.

Russia has started firing missiles into Ukraine's far west, and Friday morning's "strike may have been an attempt to target the capabilities of Ukraine's air force," The New York Times reports. "According to a local news article from January, the plant at the airport had a contract to fix and modify MiG-29 fighter jets and was 'the only enterprise in Ukraine that refurbishes MiG-29s for the Ukrainian Air Force.'"

"It is very much a part of war that you go after each other's supply lines," British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told BBC Breakfast on Friday. "But the reality is this development will be a concern for people living in the west of Ukraine." He added that British Starstreak anti-aircraft missile systems should arrive in Ukraine "imminently."

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Friday's strikes on Lviv make it "clear the Russians are going for the infrastructure that is keeping Ukrainian aircraft in the air," British military expert Michael Clarke told BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning. It is also "an attempt to frighten the West out of helping Ukrainians as much as they have been." But elsewhere on the battlefield, Ukraine is "humiliating" Russia and "wiping the floor with them in terms of world opinion," Clarke added. "The Ukrainians are stalling the Russian advance in all areas and even operating now quite effective counter-attacks. The Russians are losing a lot of equipment and troops."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.