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, and while it has been , 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 ofin 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.
“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 andin 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.
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.
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.