A fire continues to rage at an oil storage facility in Lviv following multiple Russian airstrikes the day before that marked the largest attack on the western Ukrainian city since the start of the large-scale invasion of Russia more than a month ago.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian government adviser has warned that Russian troop movements suggest Putin’s war planners may be preparing another push with fresh troops days after Ukraine’s defenders reported pushing back forces Russians in a number of areas.
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And British intelligence said Russian advances in the east of the country suggested Moscow was hoping to encircle Ukrainian forces fighting in and near areas held by Kremlin-backed separatists in the Donbass region.
Local officials said four missiles hit the outskirts of Lviv and another strike damaged infrastructure, injuring at least five people but leaving no one dead in a city that has become a haven for hundreds of thousands. Ukrainians displaced about 60 kilometers from the Polish border.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on March 27 that it had hit what it called military targets in Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles.
He said he hit a fuel depot and a factory in Lviv used to carry out military repairs.
“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue their offensive actions within the framework of the special military operation,” he added, using the term that Russian officials use – and insist that the Russians also use – on pain of imprisonment or fines – to describe the full-scale invasion launched against its neighbor on February 24.
At the time of the bombings, US President Joe Biden was visiting Poland to show support for Ukrainian defenders and refugees and to underscore NATO’s determination to defend territory from alliance members.
Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” and warned of “a long fight ahead”.
He also said in seemingly off-the-cuff remarks about Putin that “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power.”
The White House said after Biden left that the US leader was not calling for regime change in Russia.
A Putin spokesman said afterward that the direction of Russia “is not for Biden to decide.”
“The president of Russia is elected by the Russians,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov added.
Putin imposed an unprecedented post-Soviet crackdown on criticism and dissent inside Russia as the Ukrainian invasion was met with fierce Ukrainian resistance and the international community imposed financial, trade and , travel and massive diplomatic.
Ukraine’s military general staff said early on March 27 that Russia’s “large-scale armed aggression” continues.
And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged NATO to supply his country “only 1%” of its weapons and wondered if the alliance is being bullied by Russia.
“We’ve been waiting 31 days already,” said a visibly frustrated Zelenskiy, who regularly streamed video addresses from Kyiv throughout the fighting.
An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Vadym Denysenko, said on March 27 that Russia had begun destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage facilities.
The Ukrainian government will therefore have to disperse these stocks, he said.
He also said Russia was bringing troops to the Ukrainian border on a rotational basis, suggesting that Moscow may be planning new offensives to advance its invasion.
The British Ministry of Defense said in an assessment released early March 27 that Russian forces advancing south from the Kharkiv region and north from Mariupol appeared to be attempting to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.
Parts of this region – known as Donbass – have been in separatist hands since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and armed separatists took control of some regional administrative facilities.
British intelligence analysis said Ukrainian counterattacks in northern Ukraine left those battlefields “largely static”.
He said Russia relied heavily on “remote” missiles launched from Russian territory to reduce risk to its own forces. The British have warned that limited stocks of such weapons could prompt Russian planners to “revert to less sophisticated missiles or [accept] more risk to their planes.”
Western intelligence has warned that Russian forces involved in the largely stalled offensive have become more reliant on indiscriminate shelling instead of major ground operations, in a shift that could lead to more Ukrainian civilian deaths.
WATCH: Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, all public hospitals in the country have been operating under martial law and operating 24/7. Some medical workers moved their families to hospitals with them, while volunteers arrived to help.
Efforts to evacuate civilian populations have continued and Ukrainian forces have reported counter-offensives to repel Russian troops in certain areas of the south, in particular.
Nearly 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the invasion began on February 24, about half of them to Poland, and many more are displaced.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said more than 5,200 people had been successfully evacuated from cities besieged by Russia on March 26.
She said 10 of the 11 “humanitarian corridors” agreed between the warring parties had worked.
But Vereshchuk said the buses were blocked at a checkpoint in Vasylivka, preventing civilians in their own cars from fleeing the devastated southern town of Mariupol towards Zaporizhzhya.
Corridors are also meant to allow food and other essential supplies to enter besieged cities.
Yuriy Fomichev, the mayor of Slavutych, near the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, announced on March 26 that the town had been occupied by Russian troops after its defenses were overcome.
In the besieged northern city of Chernihiv, local officials and residents expressed fears that the Russian blockade and long-range bombardment could turn it into the “next Mariupol”.
A resident told AP from a switched off mobile phone that the town was without electricity, running water or heating and running out of medicine daily.