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The western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a base for war preparations, is on edge


Russia is trying to apply more force to Ukraine. We're nearly a week into the invasion, which is very early, but many Russian efforts have not worked well. A giant convoy of troops and vehicles outside Kyiv is still outside Kyiv amid fuel shortages. Russian weapons have begun to blow up civilian targets, like a government building in Kharkiv. Another missile blasted a TV tower in Kyiv, though, in a strangely symbolic development, the tower did not collapse. Ukrainians defending their cities are also preparing to deliver more force. And we go next to a city where many people are working to support the Ukrainian side of the war. Our colleague Leila Fadel is there. Hi there, Leila.


Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: And there's a little bit of a delay on the line. We'll go through it. What have you - where have you reached today?

FADEL: So we're in Lviv. It's the largest city in western Ukraine. It's a cultural hub. It's often referred to as the soul of this nation. And so far, Russian troops and bombardments have not arrived to this part of Ukraine. But this is a city on edge. Just a couple of hours ago, the air raid sirens sounded. We were here in our hotel, and all of us made our way down to the basement bunker of the hotel, which is usually a casino, to wait it out. And I should note, a lot of people in our hotel are internally displaced from places that are under Russian bombardment right now.

And the city - it's a base for war preparation. Just to give you a sense, we went to an abandoned factory that used to be a place for parties, and now a bunch of young Ukrainians are there mass-producing Molotov cocktails. They told us they've been sending them to the front lines and arming local checkpoints. We also visited an outdoor defense training session with hundreds of people in a field learning how to use weapons and then a military enlistment center where we met Yulia Cravats (ph) and her little brother. And they were weeping and hugging their father, and I asked her why she was crying.

YULIA CRAVATS: It's our father. He was in Donbas Donetsk in 2014, '15, and now he's going to the war again. And I hope that it will finish soon because we need our fathers here in our homes, and we hope that our father will come back alive.

INSKEEP: One of the people speaking with Leila Fadel in Lviv, Ukraine. And, Leila, you're telling us about more and more combatants, more and more people heading for the fighting. There's also a lot of civilians for whom the war is coming directly to them.

FADEL: That's right. I mean, Ukrainians are really worried that they'll be killed in the attacks. Already, there have been civilian deaths. Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has accused Russia of war crimes. And many people are worried that because the Ukrainians are putting up such a fight, such a resistance in the face of this Russian attack, that Russia will resort to weaponry that kills indiscriminately.

INSKEEP: What do Ukrainians want from the international community?

FADEL: I mean, it's a hard question to answer. Everyone we speak to just wants the invasion to stop. But how that happens, that's the question. Zelenskyy gave a virtual speech to the EU parliament yesterday and told the members, prove you're with us. Prove that you will not let us go. Ukraine has requested to be part of the EU. The country hopes that would mean members of the EU would come to Ukraine's defense.

INSKEEP: I suppose that's been complicated, though, in recent days. The European Union, at one point, was sending warplanes to Ukraine. That seems, at least in the short term, not to have worked out. But they're still waiting for other support.

FADEL: That's right. I mean, they just want all the support they can get. And they're even requesting - they're allowing foreign fighters to come into the country to fight with them. So they're really asking for any help they can get.

INSKEEP: Our co-host Leila Fadel - thanks, as always.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.