Residents give updates from Lviv after multiple missile strikes were reported
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
People in Ukraine are waiting for Russia's next move. They're expecting a Russian offensive in the eastern part of the country as the invaders refocus after multiple failures. What's known for the moment is that Russia is striking in multiple parts of Ukraine. Russian forces issued an ultimatum to defenders of Mariupol along the Black Sea coast, and missiles struck Lviv in Ukraine's far west. NPR's Eyder Peralta begins his report with Lviv.
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: It's not far from the border with Poland, and throughout this conflict, it has been a safe haven. It had received very few air strikes, and the city felt, in a lot of ways, totally normal. Restaurants were open. People were strolling through the parks and squares. It's home to a lot of Ukrainians who have fled from more dangerous parts of the country. But today, local authorities say several Russian missiles struck the city. They say that civilians were killed and that one of the missiles hit a tire repair shop, but most were aimed at infrastructure. These are the first fatalities that have been recorded in the city of Lviv. And we spoke to one resident who said that Lviv had felt safe, but these strikes change everything.
INSKEEP: Then there's this ultimatum against Mariupol, which has not felt safe at all throughout the war. Defenders have held out for weeks, but what is the Russian threat?
PERALTA: Look, it feels like over the past few days, the war is intensifying. And Mariupol, you know, is - it's a city that's almost entirely destroyed. The Russians say that they have gotten the upper hand. Ukrainians say that their forces there have not given up, despite the Russian ultimatum. And we should note that Mariupol is entirely under siege. It has been from the beginning of this war. So it has been mostly cut off from the outside world. We don't have a clear idea of what's happening there.
Farther to the north, the fighting in Kharkiv has intensified. Witnesses there tell us that the center of the city has been bombarded. When we were there, the front lines were pretty stable. But now the Ukrainian military says its troops are on the offensive. So fighting is intensifying everywhere. I think the big question is whether all of this new fighting is the beginning of the Russian offensive that Ukraine and its Western allies have been warning about for weeks.
INSKEEP: You've been putting your finger on different parts of the Ukrainian map as we're talking here. Let's do one more - the city where you are, center of the country, Dnipro. What are you seeing there?
PERALTA: It's quiet. Actually, the air raid just went off right now, but it's quiet. Yesterday, the Orthodox Church celebrated Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week, and the air raid siren went off then. And that still didn't stop people from waiting outside the church to get their palms blessed. I spoke to a couple there, Savidge Alexei (ph) and Zincheko Valentina (ph), outside the church. Let's listen.
Does this mean something different this year, this Easter season?
SAVIDGE ALEXEI: (Through interpreter) Pretty much. You can't feel it at all.
ZINCHEKO VALENTINA: (Through interpreter) I'm a strong believer. And obviously, when I go to church, I put some candles for our military and for our guys to protect them. And I don't know how reasonable it is to do it - maybe it's a bit strange thing - but I also do one candle always for death of Putin.
PERALTA: A candle for the death of Putin. So, yeah, look, you can see spring flowers here, and people are planning gatherings for Orthodox Easter next week. But there's always this sense of unease, of fear that death and destruction of this war could catch up with you at any moment.
INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta in Dnipro, Ukraine. Thanks so much.
PERALTA: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.