Death toll rises to 35 in Russian missile strike on base in western Ukraine, close to Poland’s border

At least 35 people were killed and more than 130 injured in a Russian missile attack on a base in western Ukraine, just ten miles from the border with Poland.

The deadly missile barrage, which devastated a base northwest of Lviv, drew the conflict close to NATO’s border and showed Moscow expanding its war effort to parts of Ukraine that so far have escaped bombs and shelling.

The governor of Lviv, Maksym Kozytskyy, said that Russian forces had fired more than 30 cruise missiles at the base, known as the International Center for Peacekeeping & Security. Air defense systems had knocked out some of the missiles.

The strike ramps up the stakes of the 17-day-old Russia-Ukraine war. While NATO has so far ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the alliance is supporting Ukraine’s resistance via weapons shipments, many of which transit through Poland.

Attacks against such shipments would bring Russia and NATO closer to direct conflict — a scenario that NATO’s chief and the White House have repeatedly said they want to avoid. According to Ukraine’s defense minister, foreign instructors had worked at the base near Lviv, although it remained unclear whether foreigners were among those killed in the attack.

“Russia has attacked the International Center for Peacekeeping & Security near Lviv. Foreign instructors work here. Information about the victims is being clarified,” tweeted the minister, Oleksii Reznikov. “This is new terrorist attack on peace & security near the EU-NATO border. Action must be taken to stop this. Close the sky!”

U.K. minister Michael Gove called the attack “a significant escalation.”

The assault came a day after Moscow threatened to take action against Western countries’ continued supply of arms to Ukraine.

“We warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state television Channel One on Saturday.

Optimism from negotiators

Meanwhile, both Ukrainian and Russian negotiators voiced cautious optimism Sunday about a potential resolution to the conflict.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, said: “I think we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.” He added that Russia had begun “to talk constructively.”

Leonid Slutsky, a Russian delegate, said there had been “substantial progress,” state-owned RIA news agency reported. Reuters reported him saying that Russia hoped to soon arrive at a “joint position” with Ukraine.

Meanwhile Chinese state media reported that Beijing is sending its top diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, to meet U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Rome on Monday, in what will the highest-level official contacts between Beijing and Washington after Russia’s war on Ukraine started.

The West has been pressuring Beijing to take a firmer stance against Moscow, and tomorrow’s meeting will provide a glimpse into where China stands on the unfolding humanitarian crisis and its “rock solid” ties with Moscow.

On Sunday, an American journalist was killed by Russian forces. Brent Renaud, a 51-year-old filmmaker, was shot in the town of Irpin, outside Kyiv.

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