Russian President Vladimir Putin, “frustrated” by Ukraine’s surprisingly stiff resistance, is increasingly escalating the scope of the war, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Russia fired waves of missiles at a Ukrainian military base in Lyiv, which is near the Polish border and far from the front lines of the war.
“What it shows is that Vladimir Putin is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought they would make against major cities including Kyiv, that he is expanding the number of targets, that he is lashing out , and that he is trying to cause damage in every part of the country, “Sullivan continued.
More than 30 Russian missiles killed at least 35 people and injured 134 in a strike at the Lviv military base, according to Ukrainian authorities. The base, a former NATO training center that had once hosted US military instructors, had become a link to receive Western military support to boost the country’s defense against the Russian invasion. The New York Times “Up to 1,000 foreign fighters were training at the base,” according to a Ukrainian official. (The US said no American forces were there on Sunday.)
Lviv in western Ukraine has been a relatively peaceful outpost in the war, unlike the capital Kyiv and Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv in the east. It is a central hub for refugees fleeing west into Poland, as well as for supplies and weapons flowing east towards the heart of the conflict.
The Sunday missile strike comes as Russia’s invasion has dragged into its third week, failing to take key cities despite facing a much smaller Ukrainian military, though boosted by shipments of Western military equipment. Russia recently said that those military convoys are “legitimate targets” for its forces.
“This is the third, now, military facility or airfield that the Russians have struck in Western Ukraine in just the last couple of days. So clearly, at least from an airstrike perspective, they’re broadening their target sets,” Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby
Sullivan also said Sunday that Russia would enter a broader war with NATO if it attacked any part of Poland, which is under 50 miles from Lviv and a member of the Western military alliance.
“The president has been clear repeatedly that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory, and that means every inch,” he said. “And if there is a military attack on NATO territory, it would cause the invocation of Article Five, and we would bring the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it.”