– Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv early on Friday, and air raid sirens blared across Ukraine as residents braced for new Russian attacks after Moscow’s lead warship in the Black Sea sank following a fire.
FIGHTING* Powerful explosions were heard in the early hours on Friday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and a number of other cities across the country, local media reported.
* Ukraine’s military said it had repulsed eight attacks in the east in the past 24 hours and destroyed several vehicles, including four tanks. The reports could not be verified.
* The governor of Kharkiv region said four civilians had been killed and 10 wounded in Russian shelling of Kharkiv city.
* A second village in Russia’s Belgorod region has come under fire from Ukraine, the regional governor said.
* Russian officials said Ukrainian helicopters had hit residential buildings and injured seven people in the Bryansk region, the latest of a series of cross-border attacks that Moscow has said may trigger a retaliatory attack on Kyiv.
* A U.N. committee said the lives of some 2.7 million people with disabilities are at risk in Ukraine, citing reports that many are trapped or abandoned in their homes, care centres and orphanages without basic supplies or medicines.
* One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO that if Sweden and Finland joined the U.S.-led military alliance then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in an exclave in the heart of Europe.
* The threat of Russia potentially using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, but the CIA has not seen a lot of practical evidence reinforcing that concern, CIA Director William Burns said.
* President Joe Biden said top U.S. officials are deciding soon whether to send a senior official to Kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine.
* Britain sanctioned two close associates of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it was the largest asset freeze ever imposed by the government.
* Putin said that Moscow would work to redirect its energy exports eastward as Europe tries to reduce its reliance on them.
* Payment for Russian gas in roubles by European Union buyers as demanded by Putin would break the EU’s sanctions regime against Moscow, an internal European Commission note said.
“We are finding terrible things: buried and hidden bodies of people who were tortured and shot, and who died as a result of mortar and artillery fire,” said Andriy Nyebytov, head of Kyiv region police.