Four missiles that struck a Ukraine city Lviv were designed to send a message to US president Joe Biden, according to the city’s mayor.
Missiles that struck Ukraine’s “safe haven” Lviv were sent as a “hello” from Putin to US president Joe Biden following his speech in neighbouring Poland, Lviv’s mayor says.
Four missiles struck just east of the city on Saturday just after 4.45pm (local time), injuring at least five people and causing panic across the typically relaxed city.
The city soon after was shrouded in a dark plume of smoke, which reportedly remained for several hours and was visible from the city’s outskirts.
Missiles were reportedly fired from Sevastopol, more than 900 kilometres away.
Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi said the missiles were fired to send a message to Mr Biden.
“With today’s strikes the aggressor wants to say hello to (US) President Biden, who is currently in Poland,” he said in a media briefing.
Maksym Kozytsky, head of Lviv’s military administration, confirmed an oil storage facility had been struck, as well as a defence facility. Both were in residential parts of the city.
Mr Sadovyi added the strikes appeared to be a clear sign Russian president Vladimir Putin was “aiming at civilians”.
“The whole world must realise that the threat is extremely serious. The sooner we get quality weapons and missile defence systems, the safer our citizens will be in our cities and the faster our victory will come,” he said.
The mayor earlier tweeted asking civilians to remain in shelters and refrain from sharing footage online.
“We are waiting for information from the Military Administration. Please do not share photos/videos. Stay in the shelters,” his tweet read.
In another tweet, he said while there was significant damage caused to “infrastructure facilities”, there had been no damage to residential buildings.
“The fires continue to be extinguished. The appropriate services are working on the ground,” he wrote.
Lviv was last struck on March 18 when missiles hit the airport and targeted an aircraft repair plant. There were no deaths.
The city has become a refuge for thousands seeking safety outside of the main fighting hot spots in eastern, southern and central Ukraine. It also acts as a transit city for people fleeing the country.
Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for Ukraine’s president, suspected Lviv had been targeted to send a message of intimidation to foreign diplomats, many of which had relocated to the city from Kyiv.
“Ukraine should definitely not be intimidated by such crimes of the Russians, and I want to say to my Western partners once again – close the sky, show strength,” Mr Yermak said on Telegram.
Mr Biden, currently about 70 kilometres away in Poland – a NATO country – described Putin a “butcher” after visiting refugees on Saturday.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” he said in a speech to Polish crowds in Warsaw.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called on more help from NATO countries, requesting the supply of tanks, planes, missile defence systems and anti-ship weaponry.
“What is NATO doing? Is it being run by Russia? What are they waiting for? It’s been 31 days. We are only asking for 1 per cent of what NATO has, nothing more,” he said during a press conference.
“This is what our partners have that is covered with dust at their storage facilities.
“What is the price of security? There is a very specific answer. It is tanks, planes, anti-aircraft-defence and anti-ship missiles. Our allies have these resources, but they prefer to allow them collect dust in their warehouses.”