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Deadly Missile Strikes Hit Ukraine's Lviv


Ukrainian servicemen and rescuers inspect the site of military strikes on buildings as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine, April 18, 2022.

Officials in western Ukraine said missile strikes hit Lviv on Monday, killing at least seven people in the city that had escaped the worst of the violence of the Russian invasion that began nearly two months ago.

Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy said three missiles hit military infrastructure sites, while another struck a car tire repair shop.

The new barrage came as Russian President Vladimir Putin contended during a video call with economic officials that the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies had failed.

He said the West "expected to quickly upset the financial-economic situation, provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system and shortages in stores," but added, "The strategy of the economic blitz has failed."

Western officials say the sanctions have pushed Russia into a sharp recession that will hurt its economy for years.

Putin acknowledged that Russian consumer prices this month had risen by 17.5% compared to a year ago, which is slightly more than twice the current 8.5% annualized inflation rate in the U.S. He directed his government to index wages and other payments to minimize the inflationary impact on personal incomes.

Aside from the attack on Lviv, Russian troops hit numerous other targets across Ukraine, including in the eastern part of the country.

Efforts to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from conflict areas were halted for a second consecutive day Monday.

"In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes," Deputy Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted in a statement on social media.

Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 18

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of engaging in "deliberate terror" with mortar and artillery strikes on residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv, while Ukrainian forces in the southern city of Mariupol defied a Russian deadline to lay down their arms.

Zelenskyy, in a video address late Sunday, said he expects Russia to launch an offensive in the eastern Donbas region "in the near future."

Russia's withdrawal of its forces from areas around Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and other parts of the north in recent weeks prompted assessments from Western military officials that Russia was reinforcing and redeploying those assets to eastern Ukraine.

Capturing the Donbas region, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk, along with the port city of Mariupol to the south, would allow Russia to control a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized in 2014.

Zelenskyy, in an interview with CNN taped Friday and aired Sunday, said for Ukraine the battle for Donbas will be critical, and that if Russia captures the area, it could once again try to seize Kyiv.

"It is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle ... can influence the course of the whole war," Zelenskyy said.

Russia has called on the remaining fighters in Mariupol to surrender, saying it controlled urban areas of the city, while an estimated 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers and 400 mercenaries remain at the sprawling Azovstal steel mill.

Ukraine Says Mariupol Has Not Fallen

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told ABC's "This Week" Sunday the country's forces will "fight to the end" in Mariupol.

"The city still has not fallen," he said, hours after the expiration of Russia's declared deadline.

Asked about reports that Putin believes Moscow is winning the war, Shmyhal noted that while several cities are under siege, only Kherson in the south has fallen under Russian control.

"More than 900 cities, towns and villages … are freed from Russian occupation," Shmyhal said, adding Ukraine has no intention of surrendering in the eastern Donbas region.

The prime minister added that Ukraine wants a diplomatic solution "if possible."

"We won't leave our country, our families, our land," he said.

Zelenskyy said in his Sunday night address that the West should increase its sanctions against Russia, including actions targeting oil and banking sectors.

"Everyone in Europe and America already sees Russia openly using energy to destabilize Western societies," Zelenskyy said. "All of this requires greater speed from Western countries in preparing a new, powerful package of sanctions."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an interview Monday with Antena3 TV that his government will soon reopen its embassy in Kyiv as a show of support to the Ukrainian people.

"Spain is with Ukraine, and we are against Putin," Sanchez said.

The Russian invasion prompted numerous countries to suspend diplomatic operations in Kyiv, with many relocating to Lviv. Italy, France and the Czech Republic are among those that have already reopened their Kyiv embassies or announced plans to do so.

Russian state television on Monday broadcast a video showing two men identified as Britons who were captured by Russian forces in Ukraine asking to be exchanged for a pro-Russian politician in Ukrainian custody. The men requested that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson work to make the exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk happen and bring them home.

Ukraine's security services also published a video Monday that showed Medvedchuk asking to be exchanged for Ukrainian troops and civilians in Mariupol. Medvedchuk, who has close ties to Putin, was captured last week after escaping house arrest in Ukraine, days ahead of Russia's invasion.

Last week, the Kremlin rejected a Zelenskyy offer to swap Medvedchuk for Ukrainians being held by Russia.

Russia initially described its aims as disarming Ukraine and defeating nationalists there. Kyiv and its Western allies say those are bogus justifications for an unprovoked war of aggression that has driven a quarter of Ukraine's 44 million people from their homes.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Press.

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