A pre-dawn missile attack on a military training base in northwest Ukraine on Sunday morning killed at least nine people, officials said, bringing the war perilously close to NATO forces positioned only a dozen miles away on the Polish border and widening the war as Russia seeks to stem the flow of weapons into Ukraine.
Eight missiles were shot at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, according to the Ukrainian military and local officials. Air defense systems intercepted some but several stuck the base, a key logistics hub and training center for foreign fighters. Colonel Anton Myronovych, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that at least nine people were killed and 57 injured, but information was still coming in. An ambulance worker at an emergency hospital in Lviv, about 35 miles away, said that about 300 people wounded in the attack had arrived for treatment.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, called the strikes “a terrorist attack on peace and security near the E.U.-NATO border” and repeated his government’s calls for allies to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
The base, also known as the Yavoriv military complex, is a vital link in the pipeline to get weapons from NATO allies into Ukraine. Russia warned on Saturday that arms sent to Ukraine would be considered “legitimate targets” for Russian forces. Only hours later, the United States defied Moscow by promising an additional $200 million in arms and equipment for Ukraine.
Before the war, the base was used by NATO in their efforts to train the Ukrainian military.
Soldiers from the United States, Britain, Canada, Poland, Latvia and many other allies have worked at the base, where foreign fighters who have volunteered to fight are now being organized and trained. The Ukrainian government estimates that some 20,000 people from around the world have signed up to join the nascent International Legion. That includes several thousand Americans, according to officials familiar with the legion but not authorized to speak publicly.
It was unclear how many Americans were at the base during the attack. One American who has volunteered to fight, reached by phone after the strikes, said the facility was being bombed and he could not talk.
One of the buildings damaged was located in a section where American, Canadian and other foreign military instructors had slept before the war, according to Staff Sergeant Jonathan Norris, who served as a broadcast journalist for the U.S. Army covering multinational training at the base.
Colonel Myronovych, the Ukrainian military spokesman, said in an interview with The New York Times on March 11 that “up to a thousand foreigners” were being trained at the base.
The most skillful, well-prepared foreigners have already been deployed to the front line and they are attached to the units of the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said.
Austin Ramzy, Benjamin Foley, Valerie Hopkins and Andriana Zmysla contributed reporting.