Russia’s goal is to destroy population in Ukraine, Lviv bishop says after drone attack

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Ukraine drone attack
Firefighters work at the site of an industrial warehouse destroyed by a Russian drone strike in Lviv, Ukraine, Sept. 19, 2023. (OSV News photo/Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Lviv region handout via Reuters) MANDATORY CREDIT. NO ARCHIVES. MUST DISCARD 30 DAYS AFTER DOWNLOAD.

(OSV News) — “It destroyed a year and a half worth of work,” Auxiliary Bishop Edward Kawa of Lviv said about a Russian aerial attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv that has killed one and destroyed a warehouse belonging to Caritas-Spes, the Roman Catholic mission of Caritas in Ukraine, in the early morning hours of Sept. 19.

“Russia’s operations are satanic in a way. First, they destroy people’s homes. Then, they destroy the things that can help them in their misery,” he said.

Some humanitarian items — like “Packages for Ukraine,” a huge load of humanitarian help from Caritas Poland — arrived at the warehouse only a day before they were blown up by a drone strike, Bishop Kawa said.

Thousands of pounds of aid supplies destroyed

Among the items destroyed were 33 pallets of food kits, 10 pallets of hygiene kits and cans, 10 pallets with generators and clothing — a total of about 300 tons of humanitarian goods.

“I just came back from the warehouse,” Bishop Kawa said the morning of Sept. 20 (EST), speaking to OSV News from Lviv. “It’s still burning. The firefighters are still working there 30 hours after the explosion.”

“The warehouse is completely destroyed. The drone not only flew into the warehouse, but there was also an explosion inside,” he said.

The entire winter load that would have been distributed to all corners of Ukraine was there, only waiting to be sent where it was most needed.

“Food, clothing, shoes for winter, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, generators. This aid was for all of Ukraine,” the bishop said. In the areas regularly hit with strikes where “there is no electricity, there is no heating.” The attack came within a few days of when the aid was to be distributed “because generators are needed, clothing is needed, because people at this point lose everything starting with the roof over their heads,” the bishop emphasized.

“At the very least, after a strike, they often need to charge a cell phone or turn on a kettle to heat water, and all of that urgent help is gone in flames,” he added.

‘In this war there are no moral principles, no moral values.’

“In this war there are no moral principles, no moral values. Our enemy, the Russian Federation, is not guided by any values — they just destroy,” Bishop Kawa said. “This is my impression, that the most important goal of this war from the Russian Federation is simply to destroy the population in Ukraine.”

Bishop Kawa said that “they are beating on civilian objects, on apartments, some places where people shop during the day, or like now when they hit on those warehouses. … They certainly saw that it was a warehouse for humanitarian aid and not some military facility.”

“Think of the people that are about to have their homes or their apartments or their villages destroyed — and it can happen any minute — now they are even deprived from what could help save their lives,” Bishop Kawa said.

The warehouse destroyed in the Sept. 19 drone strike was located in the premises of Fakro, a Polish company that offered its space for free to the Archdiocese of Lviv and helped store humanitarian items.

“In the first weeks of the war the CEO of the company, Ryszard Florek, personally called me and said he would like to donate five truckloads of food to us,” Bishop Kawa told OSV News. “I said‚ ‘Thank you very much, but we are not able to take five at once, maybe one at a time, because we won’t be able to handle it in terms of storage.'”

Then Florek offered the use of Fakro’s warehouses. “Well, and of course I agreed to that — and that warehouse had just burned down, along with production lines of the Fakro company.”

Thanks to the warehouses, the help was already “systematized, there was already some kind of order, some kind of logic, we had maps, where, who, what needs they have, and all this at this point was simply destroyed,” Bishop Kawa said.

Now, the bishop said, the goal is that “people are not left without bread, without this help, the most urgent necessities.”

“For the love towards our neighbor we can’t leave them without help. But now, to get all this help back on its feet, so to speak, back to the state we were in, we will need really a lot of effort, and a lot, a lot, a lot of work,” Bishop Kawa said. “We carry a responsibility for them — before God, and before people too.”

Paulina Guzik

Paulina Guzik is international editor for OSV News. Follow her on Twitter @Guzik_Paulina.