Rockets hit Ukraine’s Lviv as Biden says Putin ‘can’t stay in power’

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Lviv
People watch as smoke billows from an airstrike as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues March 26, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine. REUTERS/Pavlo Palamarchuk

March 27, 2022

By Jarrett Renshaw and Natalia Zinets

WARSAW/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a butcher who “cannot stay in power” after meeting Ukrainian refugees in Poland as Kremlin forces launched attacks in throughout Ukraine, including the western city of Lviv.

Biden’s comments, an escalation of US rhetoric towards Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, are not a call for regime change in Russia, a White House official said, but are meant to prepare the world’s democracies for a broader conflict.

Just before he addressed Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Saturday, four rockets hit the outskirts of Lviv, just 60 km (40 miles) from the Polish border, local officials said.

Another strike caused extensive damage to Lviv’s infrastructure but caused no reported deaths.

As the fighting drags on since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on February 24, a visibly irritated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again called on Western nations to send military equipment.

He asked if they were intimidated by Moscow and said: “We’ve been waiting for 31 days.”

In a fiery speech that ended a tour of Europe aimed at bolstering Western resolve, Biden portrayed the war as part of a historic struggle for democratic freedoms.

“For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said at the end of his speech. The Kremlin dismissed the comment, saying, “Biden doesn’t have to decide that. The President of Russia is elected by Russians.”

Biden called Putin a “butcher” after meeting refugees in Poland.

“We must have clear eyes. This fight will not be won in days or months,” he said. “We must brace ourselves for a long battle.”

Moscow says the goals for what Putin calls a “military special operation” include demilitarizing and “denazifying” its neighbor. Ukraine and its western allies call this a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

Russia has failed to capture a major Ukrainian city and the conflict has killed thousands, sent nearly 3.8 million abroad and displaced more than half of Ukraine’s children from their homes, according to the United Nations.


According to Western intelligence officials, Russian forces now rely on indiscriminate bombing rather than risking large-scale ground operations, a tactic that could limit Russian military casualties but would harm more civilians.

Olha Moliboha, 90, fled the northern city of Chernihiv just before Russia destroyed a bridge connecting her to Kyiv, preventing further evacuations or humanitarian aid shipments.

“They attacked and bombed us. They destroyed everything in our city. So many children have died, so many women,” said Moliboha, who is now in Poland, tearfully sitting in a wheelchair with her dog on her knees. “All our houses are destroyed, they are no longer there. There is no place to live.”

Russian forces occupied Slavutych, a town home to workers at the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and the mayor said three people were killed, Ukraine’s Interfax news agency said.

Ukrainian workers have continued to work at Chernobyl after the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident was seized by Russian forces. The International Atomic Energy Agency has sounded the alarm about the situation.

Russian forces have fired on a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s parliament said.

In the encircled southern port of Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation remains critical, with street fighting at its core. Mariupol was devastated by weeks of Russian fire.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify reports of fighting across Ukraine.


The United States, which has pledged billions in aid, pledged another $100 million for field equipment and civilian security assistance for Ukraine’s border guards and police.

Zelenskyy compared the devastation of Mariupol to the destruction of the Syrian city of Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces in the Syrian civil war.

He warned of dire consequences if Ukraine — one of the world’s largest grain producers — could not export its food, and urged energy-producing countries to ramp up production so Russia can’t use its oil and gas wealth to help other nations to blackmail”.

The United Nations has confirmed 1,104 civilian deaths and 1,754 injured in Ukraine and says the real number is likely higher. According to Ukraine, 136 children were killed.

The Russian Defense Ministry said 1,351 Russian soldiers were killed and 3,825 injured, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday. Ukraine speaks of 15,000 Russian soldiers killed. Reuters could not independently verify the claims.

(Reporting by Reuters journalists in Mariupol, Natalia Zinets and Maria Starkova in Lviv, Jarrett Renshaw in Warsaw; writing by Lincoln Feast; editing by William Mallard) Rockets hit Ukraine’s Lviv as Biden says Putin ‘can’t stay in power’

Bobby Allyn

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