By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The war in Ukraine is getting closer to several neighboring member states of the NATO military alliance. In one of the latest incidents, Russian missiles hit an aircraft repair plant outside Lviv in western Ukraine, relatively close to Poland. At the same time, rescuers freed 130 people from the basement of a theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol, but Ukrainian authorities say 1,300 remain trapped.
Black smoke was billowing above Lviv, long considered a safe haven for those displaced by relentless Russian attacks. A Russian missile strike hitting an aircraft maintenance plant on the outskirts of this western city rattled the relative peace here.
The strike attempted to cripple Ukraine’s air force because it was seen as the leading site in Ukraine that refurbished MiG-29 fighter jets for the Ukrainian Air Force.
Friday’s attack was also an effort to cut off weapons supplies from the NATO military alliance through nearby Poland.
Air raid sirens have been heard elsewhere in Western Ukraine, including near Hungary.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, an envoy of Pope Francis, has recently visited the area because Catholic aid agencies are involved in supporting refugees.
One elderly woman who fled the fighting reportedly told him, “From brothers we flee,” she said, referring to Russian forces, “but strangers take us in.”
Evangelical missionaries are also active in the region saying they want to mix practical help with sharing the hope of the Gospel.
Thousands also managed to flee the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, but many remain trapped there amid relentless Russian shelling.
Authorities say rescue workers freed more than a hundred people from the basement of a Mariupol theatre hit by Russian forces, but 1,300 were still believed to be inside the rubble.
Suffering also happens in Kyiv, with Russian forces approaching the Ukrainian capital.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited injured civilians in a Kyiv hospital. Accompanied by heavily armed soldiers, he made a wounded woman smile by handing her a big bouquet of white flowers.
While Russian forces are expanding their attacks, they face stiff resistance from the army and volunteers. Among the volunteers is Sergiy Stakhovsky, who says he retired as a professional tennis player to take up arms. “Even if I have to behave in shooting, killing someone is marking on your life. So I don’t believe that any of the Ukrainians willingly do it,” he said.
“But we don’t have any choice. If we don’t stand up, we don’t have a country to defend; we don’t have a country to live in,” Stakhovsky added.
Washington says China has been a close ally of Moscow, in Europe’s worst conflict since World War Two.
There have been signs that Ukraine and Russia may be ready to compromise at the negotiating tables, including Ukraine not joining NATO.
Still, fighting has resumed on the front lines of a war that has led to more than 3.2 million refugees.
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