Many in Lviv, like Ms. Belau, have learned to acclimate to the sounds of air raid alarms and even occasional strikes on military facilities. But the scenes of billowing smoke from the center of the city were a stark reminder that the violence now razing cities and villages to the east could be at their doorstep, too, at any moment.
The city, no more than 50 miles from the western border with Poland, has been largely spared direct attacks as Russia has focused its attention on larger and more strategic areas to the east. It has turned into a critical gateway to safety for the millions of Ukrainians who have fled westward to escape the worst of the fighting, which is concentrated in the east.
Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have passed through the city’s train and bus stations as they look to cross the border and reach foreign lands. For others, it is a new home, if fleeting. The city, which had about 720,000 residents before the war began, has since welcomed at least 350,000 more people who were displaced from other parts of the country.
Until Monday, the only direct targets that had been hit in Lviv were a fuel storage site and tank facility in the city’s northeast, struck by several missile strikes about three weeks ago. Before that, a pair of attacks targeted an airport facility and a military base just outside the city, killing at least 35 people.
The war, nonetheless, has transformed the city.
Known for its quaint cobbled streets flanked by historic architecture and statues — a UNESCO world heritage site — Lviv was quickly repurposed from a tourist hub to a vital base of operations. Since the war began in late February, it has served as a channel for humanitarian supplies, aid workers and foreign fighters to front line cities.