Watch CBS News

Russia hits Lviv again as Putin's campaign of terror focuses on Ukraine's shell-shocked east

On the front lines in eastern Ukraine
Ukraine special forces show devastation after weeks of Russian shelling 02:02

Lysychansk, Ukraine — Russian missiles hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early Wednesday morning, slamming into three power stations, injuring two people and knocking out power in the region. Lviv has been a destination for many fleeing the battle zones hundreds of miles away in eastern Ukraine, and while it has been targeted a few times, it's largely been spared from the most intense fighting.

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports from eastern Ukraine, the country has accused Russia of targeting a sprawling steel plant in the port city of Mariupol even as civilians try to flee from a suffocating two months beneath it.

Busloads of families who had holed up in Soviet era tunnels underneath the Azovstal steelworks before a brief ceasefire allowed for their escape over the weekend finally arrived to the relative safety of Ukrainian-held territory in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

Russia attacks Mariupol after promising safe passage 02:30

"We were praying to God that missiles flew over our shelter," said one of the survivors, "because if it hit the shelter, all of us would be done."

Forcing residents to flee or face death appears to be part of Russia's strategy in the war that Vladimir Putin launched on February 24. The campaign of terror now stretches across a vast swathe of the country, from coastal cities like Mariupol and Odesa in the south, to the decimated towns in the east like Kharkiv — Ukraine's second most populous city, much of which has been reduced to rubble.

Across eastern Ukraine, the Russian military is tearing apart communities piece by piece, hitting restaurants, cafes and apartment buildings. Whether the civilian infrastructure is being targeted or just hit by random fire, the effect is the same.

The population of the front-line town of Lysychansk used to be around 100,000, before Russian forces began their relentless bombardment. They're now less than three miles away, and only a handful of residents remain in the town.

Fighting intensifies in eastern Ukraine as civilians flee 03:33

In Lysychansk, defiance looks like a couple strolling hand-in-hand across shattered glass.

"It's like hell living here," Olena told D'Agata. "We have no water. There's shelling every day. Houses have been bombed. It's terrible."

CBS News saw desperate residents collecting water from a crater left by an airstrike that hit the bottom of an apartment building, as frightened residents took shelter in the basement.

A woman in the front-line town of Lysychansk, just several miles from Russia's invading forces in eastern Ukraine, collects water from a crater left by an airstrike. CBS News

Ludmilla said she was accustomed to the sound of constant explosions, and she had even accepted that the Russians may take over her town. So, why hasn't she left?

"I have nowhere to go," she told D'Agata. "I don't know, where would I go? I'm an old woman. Who needs me?"

A Ukrainian special forces commander helping defend the city told CBS News the Russians were just flattening everything with artillery and airstrikes from a distance. But if Putin's ground forces do move in, he said his troops would defend Lysychansk to the end.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.