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35 Killed in Russian Cruise Missile Attack on Ukraine Military Base 

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A resident passes by cars burnt in the Russian shellfire as he flees from his hometown Irpin on the road toward the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022.

Ukrainian officials say at least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded early Sunday when Russia fired about 30 cruise missiles at the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, a military base in western Ukraine near the country’s border with Poland.

NATO troops in Poland are a scant 25 kilometers away.

The military base, not far from Lviv, is where NATO units train with Ukrainian troops and where western military instructors conduct training.

Russia’s military continued to pound cities across Ukraine with artillery and airstrikes.

Seven civilians, including a child, were killed Saturday in a designated humanitarian corridor when Russia struck the convoy, forcing the civilians to turn around, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said only nine of 14 humanitarian corridors were open Saturday. Vereshchuk said about 13,000 people were evacuated along the routes that had been agreed upon as safe passage exits for civilians.

Also Saturday, a Russian missile attack destroyed a Ukrainian air base in the city of Vasylkiv, according to Mayor Natalia Balasynovych who said an oil depot also was destroyed.

Smoke billows from burning containers after shelling in Vasylkiv, south west of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022.
Smoke billows from burning containers after shelling in Vasylkiv, south west of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022.

Russia’s Interfax News Agency quoted Balasynovych as saying Russian rockets also destroyed an ammunition depot near Vasylkiv.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Saturday that Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break his country apart. "Ukraine will stand this test,” the president said. “We need time and strength to break the war machine that has come to our land.”

French and German leaders spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday, but France said in a statement they did not detect “a willingness on Putin’s part to end the war.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry tweeted Saturday that Russian forces shelled a mosque in Mariupol where 80 people were sheltering. The ministry did not disclose the timing of the attack, but it said some of those in the mosque were from Turkey.

Ukraine’s military has reportedly said Russian forces have captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, and Ukrainian authorities have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged southern port city.

Russian's army tanks move down a street on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, March 11, 2022.
Russian's army tanks move down a street on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, March 11, 2022.

Ukrainian officials in Mariupol said Friday more than 1,500 people have been killed since Russia began its assault on the city, a figure that has not been independently confirmed.

On Friday, a senior U.S. defense official said Russia had widened its war in Ukraine by targeting areas in the west of the country and appears to be regrouping troops near the capital, Kyiv, as the United States and its allies increase sanctions on Moscow.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence, confirmed Russia had begun targeting sites in western Ukraine, hitting airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk, part of a salvo of more than 800 missiles launched since the start of the invasion.

Ukrainian forces were continuing to mount "an adaptive and nimble" defense that was frustrating Russian forces, the U.S. defense official said.

The official also told reporters the U.S. is seeing signs that Russian forces, and the Russian air force in particular, are displaying a "general risk aversion" while also showing their inexperience.

"This is not a military that has great expeditionary capability and experience," the official said. "Nothing on this scale."

But the official also warned there are indications Russian forces are learning from their early missteps.

VOA's Jeff Seldin and Cindy Saine contributed to this story. Some information also came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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