Putin is 'lashing out,' U.S. adviser says of Western Ukraine missile strike

Russian President Vladimir Putin, "frustrated" by Ukraine's surprisingly stiff resistance, is increasingly escalating the scope of the war, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Russia fired waves of missiles at a Ukrainian military base in Lyiv, which is near the Polish border and far from the frontlines of the war.

"This does not come as a surprise to the American intelligence and national security community," Sullivan said on CNN's "State of the Union.”

"What it shows is that Vladimir Putin is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities including Kyiv, that he is expanding the number of targets, that he is lashing out, and that he is trying to cause damage in every part of the country," Sullivan continued.

More than 30 Russian missiles killed at least 35 people and injured 134 in a strike at the Lviv military base, according to Ukrainian authorities. The base, a former NATO training center that had once hosted U.S. military instructors, had become a link for receiving Western military support to boost the country’s defense against the Russian invasion. The New York Times reported that "up to 1,000 foreign fighters were training at the base," according to a Ukrainian official. (The U.S. said no American forces were there on Sunday.)

Lviv, in Ukraine's west, has been a relatively peaceful outpost in the war, unlike the capital Kyiv and Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the east. It is a central hub for refugees fleeing west into Poland, as well as for supplies and weapons flowing east toward the heart of the conflict.

A stretcher carrying a wounded person is loaded into an ambulance by two emergency workers.
A wounded person being carried to a hospital after a series of Russian missiles in Lviv, Ukraine. (Abdullah Tevge/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Sunday missile strike comes as Russia's invasion drags into its third week, failing to take key cities, despite facing a much smaller Ukrainian military, though boosted by shipments of Western military equipment. Russia recently said that those military convoys are "legitimate targets" for its forces.

"This is the third, now, military facility or airfield that the Russians have struck in Western Ukraine in just the last couple of days. So clearly, at least from an airstrike perspective, they're broadening their target sets," Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sullivan also said Sunday that Russia would enter a broader war with NATO if it attacked any part of Poland, which is under 50 miles from Lviv and a member of the Western military alliance.

"The president has been clear repeatedly that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory, and that means every inch," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And if there is a military attack on NATO territory, it would cause the invocation of Article Five, and we would bring the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it."