Protests against alleged Russian plans to turn the occupied Ukrainian province into a breakaway state

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As of Sunday morning, the Lviv region of western Ukraine was a safe haven in a war-torn country.

This is where families living further east sent their children to protect them.

Vasyl Kunets, a driver who lives in Novoyavorivsk, a city about 20 miles from Lviv, said that until now, when sirens went off signaling a possible airstrike, he wasn’t overly concerned. He would get to safety, but maybe not as quickly as he should have.

The war was still far away.

That all changed when Russian attacks hit the Yavoriv military training ground on the outskirts of Novoyavorivsk, killing 35 people, the Lviv regional administration said on Sunday.

More than 30 rockets fired from warplanes over the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov hit the military base, Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration, said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday.

Suddenly, war was at Kunets’ doorstep.

The educational base is intertwined with life in the city. Many of its residents are employed there or in support services. Those who don’t work for it directly know someone who does.

Kunets has seen firsthand the damage they’ve caused.

“I saw when the rocket hit the ground, I saw the explosion and the smoke, a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire,” he told CNN.

“It lasted 30 minutes and I heard maybe eight bangs, maybe a couple of rockets falling down or parts of rockets exploding separately, I don’t know.”

Kunets told CNN the attack on the base “changed everything.”

“We’re worried now. I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about my children. People are worried about the safety of their families and some of them are considering moving elsewhere,” he said.

Kunets said he is now considering sending his two children away from Ukraine – something he hadn’t necessarily considered before.

“It feels less safe and more dangerous. Yesterday and the day before we were more relaxed and when we heard the alarms we didn’t move so fast, we didn’t take it too seriously. But today we’re packing and ready to go very quickly when we hear the alarm,” he said.

CNN’s Sofiya Harbuziuk contributed to this post.

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