A Weekend of Airstrikes Adds Anxiety to Even Ukraine’s Safest Cities


LVIV, Ukraine — The all-too-familiar blare of an air raid siren signaled rockets within striking distance of this city in western Ukraine on Monday afternoon. It was the fifth time in less than 48 hours.

With each siren, nerves have grown more frayed.

The dozens of the missiles launched by Russian forces into Ukraine over the weekend have raised anxiety, even in the relative peace of the country’s northwest. The air raid alarms that had grown sporadic are becoming more frequent, renewing fears that it may only be a matter of time before missiles target civilians in what have been considered Ukraine’s safest cities.

Staff members at the Lviv National Art Gallery, who had recently returned to work when the gallery reopened last month after being closed for weeks, walked with purpose into the basement along with a handful of visitors to wait out the alarm on Monday. The women, who normally keep an eye on the museum’s visitors, gathered in one corner of the basement and turned to their phones, scrolling for updates on where missiles had been fired or checking in with family members.

In some ways this precaution has become routine, but it took on a new level of urgency after a weekend filled with strikes that triggered alarms over large swathes of the country several times a day.

Many in Lviv watched in horror as explosions rattled a residential area of the capital, Kyiv, on Sunday morning, destroying three floors of a nine-story building. One person was killed and two others injured.

On Saturday, some 50 missiles rained down across the country, hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus in St. Petersburg.

“It was a bit calmer before the weekend, and there were fewer air alarms,” said one museum worker, Mariia Kunor, 65. “And now, we feel bigger anxiety for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.”

Liudmyla Posliedova, 72, another of the museum employees, said that every siren now raised fears that a missile could strike Lviv, which has been spared the worst of the war.

“After all of the things happening in Kyiv,” Ms. Posliedova said, “we’ve felt so sorry for people, the women, children who lost apartments or houses.”

She added that she also feared for all of the internally displaced people from the east of the country who had come to Lviv for shelter and must again deal with the stress that the sirens bring.

“The more air alarms we have, the more anxiety we have, and nothing helps ease that,” said her colleague, Lesia Sannytska, 62.

Elsewhere in the city, pedestrians walked to underground street crossings to wait out the siren, clutching their phones and looking for updates that would give them a sense of whether or not there had been any strikes nearby. Others leaned against archways to get out of the streets — even as countless other pedestrians continued about their day.

Halyn Telep, 59, said that up until last week, it seemed that everyone had calmed down a bit.

“And now, of course, the feeling of anxiety is growing,” said Ms. Telep, one of the museum workers. “What can we do? We are constantly worried.”



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