Several explosions were heard across Kyiv early Friday. Earlier, Mayor Vitali Klitschko had urged residents to go to air raid shelters and Ukrainian officials had issued a nationwide air raid alert.
Ukraine shot down a missile near a children’s hospital in the city Friday. Debris from the missile fell near the hospital in Kyiv, but there were no reported injuries.
Meanwhile, the airspace over two Russian airports – Vnukovo and Kalugo – was temporarily closed Friday due to drone flights. The airports have since reopened.
In its daily intelligence report Friday about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry said there is a “realistic possibility” that a “small number” of Wagner Group advisers will be present when Belarussian troops conduct an exercise in the Grodno area of northwestern Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders, according to the British Defense Ministry.
The British ministry said that Wagner advisers would likely act as trainers in the Belarus exercise. It also noted that the Belarussian Defense Ministry said the exercise in the Grodno area is “intended to incorporate lessons learnt by the Russian military in Ukraine.”
“Russia is almost certainly keen to promote Belarusian forces as posturing against NATO,” the British ministry said. However, it is unlikely that the Belarussian forces will be deployed to Grodno “with the enablers it would need to make it combat-ready.”
On Thursday, a Russian missile hit a hotel United Nations staff members often used in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, leaving one person dead and 16 wounded, Ukrainian officials said.
“Zaporizhzhia. The city suffers daily from Russian shelling. A fire broke out in a civilian building after the occupiers hit it with a missile,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
U.N. staff reportedly stayed at the Reikartz Hotel when they worked in the city, Denise Brown, the humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, told Reuters.
“I am appalled by the news that a hotel frequently used by United Nations personnel and our colleagues from NGOs supporting people affected by the war has been hit by a Russian strike in Zaporizhzhia shortly ago,” she said in an email. “I have stayed in this hotel every single time I visited Zaporizhzhia.”
Among the 16 injured in the strike, four were children. It was the second strike on Zaporizhzhia in two days.
Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia has also become a focal point of the war because it is the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the plant lost connection to its last remaining external line and was switched to a reserve line, state-owned power generating company Energoatom said Thursday.
“Such a regime is difficult for the reactor plant, its duration is limited by the project’s design, and it can result in failure of the main equipment of the energy unit,” Energoatom said on Telegram.
A blackout at the power plant is looming, Energoatom added.
Later Thursday, Ukraine’s navy said a new temporary “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea had started working. The first ships are expected to use it within days, the navy said.
The corridor will be for commercial ships blocked at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and for grain and agricultural products, Oleh Chalyk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian navy, told Reuters.
Despite the opening of the corridor, the risk posed by mines in the Black Sea, coupled with the military threat from Russia, persisted.
Russia’s decision to back out of the Black Sea grain deal was predicted to feature prominently this past weekend at Saudi Arabia-hosted peace talks about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said the talks were a “breakthrough” for Kyiv.
“If a country wants to be in the front seat of world politics, it has to become part of these coordination meetings,” Dmytro Kuleba said in a Thursday interview with Reuters.
“We are fully satisfied with the dynamics of this process,” he said. “I believe the meeting in Jeddah was a breakthrough because for the first time, we brought together countries representing [the] entire world, not only Europe and North America.”
In the days leading up to the talks, it was unclear whether China would participate. But officials from China, and more than 40 countries in total, ended up participating.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.