Russian missiles pounded a military base in western Ukraine on Sunday, killing 35 people in an attack on a facility that served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting its defense. The barrage marked an escalation of Moscow’s offensive and moved the fighting perilously close to the Polish border.
The attack so near a NATO member-country raised the possibility that the alliance could be drawn into the fight, and was heavy with symbolism in a conflict that has revived old Cold War rivalries and threatened to rewrite the current global security order.
More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility at Yavoriv, which has long been used to train Ukrainian soldiers, often with instructors from the United States and other countries in the Western alliance. Poland is also a transit route for Western military aid to Ukraine, and the strikes followed Moscow’s threats to target those shipments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “black day,” and again urged NATO leaders to establish a no-fly zone over the country, a plea that the West has said could escalate the war to a nuclear confrontation.
“If you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory. NATO territory. On the homes of citizens of NATO countries,” Zelenskyy said.
In addition to the fatalities, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that 134 people were wounded in the attack.
Ina Padi, a 40-year-old Ukrainian who crossed the border with her family, was taking shelter at a fire station in Wielkie Oczy, Poland, when she was awakened by blasts Sunday morning that made the glass in the windows shake.
“I understood in that moment, even if we are free of it, (the war) is still coming after us,” she said.