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Russian strikes intensify, hitting Ukraine's western city of Lviv for the 1st time

Posted at 10:24 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 12:40:48-04

KYIV, UKRAINE - Another major Ukrainian city — very close to the country's western border with Poland — has come under Russian fire. As the capital Kyiv reeled from more shelling, black smoke rose over the previously untouched city of Lviv for the first time on Friday morning.

A Russian strike hit what was said to be a facility for the repair of military aircraft. Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine. It sits only about 40 miles from the NATO territory across the border in Poland. Lviv's mayor said at least one person was wounded in the strike that hit just a few miles from the center of his city.

In the heart of Lviv, meanwhile, there was a silent protest against the toll Russia's brutality has taken on Ukraine's most vulnerable. More than 100 empty strollers were placed in rows in a central square on Friday, symbolizing the children killed in the country since Putin's war began.

"The lives of our Ukrainian children. Today, 109 empty baby strollers were put up on Rynok Square in Lviv to show the whole world what a terrible price we pay," said Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine's Interior Ministry, in a post on the Telegram social media app.

He shared a photo of the protest, adding: "Ukraine is fighting for security around the world, losing their children!"

The United Nations has confirmed at least 816 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia launched its war, with most of the deaths blamed on shelling and airstrikes. That figure includes 59 children, and the U.N.'s human rights agency acknowledges the "actual toll is much higher."

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata said the indiscriminate shelling of Kyiv continued spreading terror in the capital on Friday. Missiles and artillery slam into the once-thriving metropolis on a daily basis — sometimes several times a day — as Russian forces intensify their attacks across the country.

Another residential building on the outskirts of Kyiv was in ruins on Friday, and as D'Agata reported, there's no telling when or where the next rocket, or rockets, will strike.

To the east, close to the Russian border, Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv has been engulfed in flames. It has come under constant bombardment for weeks, since Vladimir Putin ordered his assault on Ukraine 23 days ago, on February 24.

In the besieged city of Chernihiv, northwest of Kharkiv but still perilously close to Russian ground, an American teacher was among the civilians killed by Putin's assault on Thursday. James Hill, 68, had stayed in the city to look after his partner, Irina, who was being treated at a local hospital for MS.

In Pittsburgh, Katya Hill recalled the last time she spoke with her brother.

"I could hear bombs in the background," she told CBS News. "He was going out on a daily basis, searching for food. The hospital lost electricity. The hospital lost gas. There was no heat… my brother was a peacemaker and he was a giver, and he just felt everybody in the world should love each other."

In Kyiv, meanwhile, a man wept over the body of his dead mother. She was killed when fragments of a Russian missile, shot down by Ukrainian forces, rained down on their neighborhood.

Even when a missile misses its target, it can wreak havoc. D'Agata and his team watched as residents of Kyiv's shell-shocked suburbs picked up the pieces of their lives and patiently lined up for plastic sheeting — some protection against the bitter cold, if not the searing shrapnel.

The incredible destruction inflicted on residential buildings by the Russian missile that was stopped in its path made it clear why people in Ukraine's capital are so terrified of what's to come.

But even with her neighborhood directly in the firing line, as she plucked jagged shards of glass from the window that no longer keeps out the bitter cold, Kyiv resident Gayla told CBS News that she was not going anywhere.

"It's ok, we won't freeze," she said. "Love warms us up."

Asked if she had a message for those watching her country's destruction from afar, Galya said: "Peace in Ukraine. No more war, and that Putin comes to his senses and gets a brain."

D'Agata said there was one small piece of good news on Friday: Ukrainian officials said 130 people had been rescued from the debris of a theater in the battered southern port city of Mariupol that was bombed this week. It remained unclear how many people might still be trapped, or how many had died in the theater, where more than 1,000 were said to have been taking shelter.

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