Shopping centers and supermarkets in Lviv, Ukraine, were reportedly evacuated on Saturday after a series of bomb threats. Ukrainian Ambassador to Estonia confirmed the reporters on Twitter on Saturday just before 8pm Ukraine time, suggesting that the threats were made by Russian or pro-Kremlin actors.
— Mariana Betsa (@Mariana_Betsa) October 22, 2022
Ukrainian independent news outlet The Kyiv Independent also reported that Lviv Oblast police recieved anonymous phone calls at around noon alleging that explosive devices had been planted in shopping centers and supermarkets across the region.
The Kyiv Independent cited local media outlets and added that employees and visitors had already been evacuated.
Police officers are reportedly searching the shopping centers with the help of bomb-sniffing dogs.
⚡️Lviv supermarkets, shopping malls evacuated over bomb threats.
Lviv Oblast police received anonymous calls around noon on Oct. 22 about explosive devices allegedly placed in shopping malls and supermarkets in Lviv, local media reported.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) October 22, 2022
Lviv Oblast in western Ukraine may not be one of the contest regions of the country recently “annexed” by the Kremlin, but it has seen its fair share of fighting since the outbreak of the invasion.
On October 11, the city of Lviv was hit by Russian missile strikes that caused significant regional damage. The strikes targeted critical infrastructure, prompting a city-wide power outage.
Three explosions were seen in the city at noon local time. The strikes came only a day after similar Russian missile strikes took out the city’s electricity supply, which was restored later in the day. However, some parts of the city are reportedly still without power.
So why Lviv?
There are at least two reasons Russia targets regions outside of the Donbas and southern Ukraine – first, as part of Putin’s ongoing campaign of terror. The Russian military’s bombardment of Ukrainian cities, including recent indiscriminate bombing campaigns that specifically targeted civilian infrastructure across the entire country, serves to scare the Ukrainian military and civilians, as well as Western countries continuing to supply Ukraine with military and financial aid.
Secondly, missile strikes and even bomb threats disrupt life in Ukraine and wear down the country’s ability to respond to attacks elsewhere. By targeting Lviv and other regions in western and central Ukraine, Russian forces have been able to take out warehouses and other buildings filled with military equipment and supplies sent from the West.
Bomb threats in Lviv may or may not have been authorized by the Kremlin or Russian military officials. Still, they do cause disruption, cast doubt on Ukraine’s ability to hold back the threat from Russia, and distract officials when the Russians are deploying hundreds of thousands of reservists to Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.