Russian strikes on Ukraine hit near the border of Poland, a NATO member state
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
There are new diplomatic efforts today to address Russia's attack on Ukraine. The U.S. national security adviser meets with China's top diplomat, where he's expected to warn China not to provide assistance to Russia in its invasion. And also, fresh talks begin today between Ukraine and Russia. This all comes a day after Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian military base near the border with NATO member state, Poland. It's a region where war evacuees from across Ukraine have sought safety. At least 35 people were killed Sunday in that strike on a facility where foreign soldiers, including Americans, had trained in the past.
NPR's Lauren Frayer is in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Lauren, western Ukraine had mostly been spared from Russian bombardment. Are there fears that the war may be widening now?
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Yeah. Well, we just spent five hours in the basement in a bomb shelter this morning, if that's any indication. Air raid sirens are going off pretty constantly here - a huge increase from past days. These are airstrikes in the west, but Russian ground forces are still believed to be hundreds of miles away from here. So we're hoping this is not a new front in a ground war. The latest airstrikes, though, have definitely caused panic in the west of Ukraine. My colleague, NPR's Ryan Lucas, drove out to where that airstrike hit yesterday, spoke to some panicked villagers, and here's one of them.
STEPAN: (Speaking Ukrainian).
FRAYER: He's saying, "everyone is very anxious that anything could happen." This is an elderly man named Stepan. He didn't want to give his surname. He's clearly frightened. And given how close this Russian strike hit to the Polish border, within 15 miles or so, there are real fears that stray munitions could hit a NATO country and pull other countries into this war.
MARTINEZ: And there's been just such just bad news coming out of the southern port city of Mariupol. What's the latest there?
FRAYER: Yeah. So I got up through to a city official there this morning, which was surprising because for several days the phones haven't worked there. His name is Petro Andrushchenko. He says his city is still without electricity, without gas. He told me he personally has one day of food left. And I asked him to look out his window and describe what he sees. And he just kind of groaned.
PETRO ANDRUSHCHENKO: It's absolutely terrible. It's absolutely destroyed now. It's more like ruin from historical movie about World War II. But it's the real time.
FRAYER: Now, Andrushchenko told me he's hoping to get some civilians out of his city today if the Russian attacks pause. But he said it wasn't safe yet. And I could hear the pounding of artillery behind him as we spoke. Mariupol is also where a maternity hospital was destroyed by a Russian strike last week. There was this devastating photo of a pregnant woman being carried away on a stretcher. It was really one of the worst images so far of this war, and we just got word that that woman has passed away.
FRAYER: Meanwhile, fighting is raging across the country - fierce fighting northwest of Kyiv this morning. A U.S. journalist was among the civilians killed yesterday in Irpin, another suburb of the capital Kyiv.
MARTINEZ: This latest round of talks today between negotiators from Russia and Ukraine, Lauren - are people there hopeful that maybe these could actually lead to some sort of progress in stopping the violence or at least maybe putting it on hold?
FRAYER: Of course. I mean, there's always hope. But this is the fourth round of talks involving the same negotiators - different format - video format, rather than in person. These talks may last two days, through tomorrow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a video early this morning saying he's optimistic for talks. He credited these talks with facilitating some of these humanitarian corridors through which thousands of civilians have been able to evacuate. But thousands and thousands more are still waiting. Zelenskyy also said, quote, "we are going through the worst ordeal of our lives." And he said, "Ukraine is unbreakable."
MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Lauren Frayer in the western part of Ukraine. Lauren, thanks.
FRAYER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.