KYIV, Ukraine — Russian missiles killed at least four people and destroyed dozens of homes in Lviv, western Ukraine, early on Thursday — the deadliest attack on a city that has largely been spared the worst of the war because of its distance from the front lines.
Rescuers were combing through rubble for survivors, Ihor Klymenko, the internal affairs minister, said on Telegram. At least seven people have been rescued from a residential complex where the third and fourth floors were destroyed, he said. President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed a response, adding in a message on Twitter that it would be a “strong one.”
Russian forces fired 10 Kalibr cruise missiles from carriers and submarines in the Black Sea, according to the Ukrainian military. Seven were intercepted, the military said, with the rest hitting the apartment complex and other sites.
“This is the largest attack on Lviv’s civilian infrastructure since the beginning of the full-scale invasion,” Andriy Sadovyi, the city’s mayor, said in a video posted on Twitter, speaking in front of destroyed cars, broken windows and debris strewn on the street.
The head of the regional military administration, Maksym Kozytskyy, said a piece of infrastructure had also been damaged but did not provide details.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, fighting has centered on the Donbas region, about 600 miles from Lviv. Even in the early days in February 2022, Lviv remained a relatively safe city. It is 47 miles from the border with Poland and where volunteers, including freelance soldiers, would pass through before heading to Kyiv, the capital, or the front line.
Still, Russia has shifted its strategy with missile and drone attacks throughout the war, hitting one city one night and then targeting several on another. The unpredictability has caused panic among people who have been hardened by nearly 16 months of war. In the early days of the war, the 700,000 residents of Lviv prepared themselves for a full-scale onslaught that never materialized.
A day before the attack on Lviv, Ukraine destroyed a military base in the Russian-occupied city of Makiivka. Russia acknowledged the attack but downplayed its importance. A video shared online by Ukraine’s military showed a fireball lighting up the night sky.
The Ukrainian attack showed that it can still hit deep behind miles of Russian trenches and minefields, while its soldiers are bogged down in trench warfare in the south and east across the open fields forming the front line.
On Thursday, air-raid sirens lasted for more than an hour starting about 1:30 a.m. in Ukraine. Reports from the mayor and in the news media of explosions in Lviv soon followed. The authorities said air defenses were working and urged residents to remain in shelters.
“It was very loud,” Mr. Kozytskyy, the head of the regional administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app just before 3 a.m. Promising that more details would come, he said people should stay in a safe place as the threat of missile strikes remained.
After the all clear was given around 3:20 a.m., ambulance sirens were heard in the city.
Stanislav Kozliuk contributed reporting.