Ukraine live briefing: Strikes reported across Ukraine; grain deal extended by four months

Police cordoned off the site where a missile killed two people in Przewodow, Poland, on Tuesday. (Karolina Jonderko for The Washington Post)

An earlier version of this report misstated the day that Brittney Griner's attorneys announced the location of her transfer and a Pentagon announcement of a contract to boost weapons production. Both developments occurred Thursday, not Friday.

KYIV, Ukraine — Explosions were reported across Ukraine on Thursday, including in the capital, Kyiv, in Zaporizhzhia and Odessa in the south and in the central city of Dnipro. At least two cruise missiles were shot down over Kyiv, regional officials said, while a Washington Post reporter heard a missile fly over an apartment block in the capital.

Russia has intensified waves of strikes this week, taking out infrastructure targets ahead of winter, following its retreat from the city of Kherson and other battlefield setbacks.

Russia and Ukraine have renewed the U.N. grain deal. Is it working?

The Black Sea grain initiative is set to be extended for 120 days, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations announced. The agreement provides safe passage for cargo ships using Ukraine’s Black Sea ports amid Russia’s invasion — which heavily disrupted operations and threatened to cause a global food crisis. There was no immediate comment from Russian officials about the extension.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres welcomed the extension of the Black Sea grain deal Thursday as other nations hailed the importance of the agreement. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the deal was “vital” and that more than 11 million tons of grain and other food supplies have been delivered since July. Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had allowed the deal to automatically renew but added: “Any attempts to use the humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea for provocative military purposes will be firmly suppressed.” The export of grain will reduce pressure on the global food market, prevent food prices from rising and save tens of millions of people from starvation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday.
  • Brittney Griner, the U.S. basketball star imprisoned in Russia on drug charges in what the United States classifies as wrongful detention, has been transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, southeast of Moscow. “Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment,” her legal team said in a statement Thursday.
  • President Biden disputed Ukraine’s account of a missile that hit Poland, killing two, on Tuesday. Zelensky has called for Ukrainian specialists to join an international investigation into the incident, while stressing he has “no doubt” that the missile did not come from his country. Biden disagreed, telling reporters on Thursday: “That’s not the evidence.”
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday denied that this week’s deadly missile explosion in Poland and subsequent disagreements over the missile’s origin revealed a lack of communication and coordination with Ukraine after contradictory statements between Zelensky and Western leaders, The Post reports.
  • The explosion in Poland was from at least one or as many as two Ukrainian SA-10 surface-to-air missiles that went off course, according to information seen by the U.S. intelligence community, a person familiar with the intelligence told The Post on Thursday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Polish and NATO leaders have said the blast was probably the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile gone astray, although they maintained that Russia was ultimately responsible because it fired a barrage of missiles at Ukraine. During a visit to the blast site Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said investigations would continue for days.

2. Battleground updates

  • Kyiv’s governor accused Russia of “massively attacking Ukraine,” and the capital’s military administration said it had destroyed missiles and drones targeting the region. In Dnipro, 14 people were hospitalized after two districts were hit, a regional governor said, while three people were reported injured in Odessa.
  • Ukraine faces a “significant decrease in the power available from its national grid” as a result of Russia’s bombardment, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Thursday. It noted that the barrage of strikes was forcing Moscow to draw deeply on its reserve of conventional cruise missiles. Zelensky said Thursday evening that more than 10 million Ukrainians were without electricity due to emergency shutdowns as well as planned ones.
  • Overnight Russian shelling killed seven people and destroyed a residential building in Zaporizhzhia, Zelensky said Thursday evening. He said the number of victims may increase as the rubble is still being cleared. Through the first half of Thursday, Ukraine shot down up to 9 missiles and drones. He reiterated his calls to other nations to protect the Ukrainian sky from Russian missiles.
  • Ukrainian officials are working to restore services to parts of the Kherson region that have been liberated, including electricity, water, communications, financial, social and medical services. Electricity has been restored to more than 20 settlements previously occupied by Moscow’s troops, according to Zelensky.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the lack of electricity and heat in many regions of Ukraine was the consequence of Kyiv’s refusal to negotiate. Ukrainian officials have previously pointed out that a 2015 peace deal in the country’s eastern Donbas region — where Moscow backed a separatist campaign — merely bought Russia time before Putin launched his full-scale invasion this year.

3. Global Updates

  • A Dutch court on Thursday convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian of murder in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014, an attack that killed all 298 passengers and crew on board. The plane was flying over a region at the center of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces — a forerunner to the current conflict. Nearly 300 passengers and crew members were killed. Moscow denies any involvement. After the verdict was announced, Zelensky said it will serve as a basis to “convict the culprits of a higher level.”
  • The U.S. military on Thursday announced that it had signed a contract to boost production for advanced multiple-launch rocket systems, known as HIMARS, to replenish stocks after the provision of military aid to Ukraine.
  • Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola have pledged $500 million to help Ukraine rebuild its infrastructure. The “green growth initiative” was welcomed by Zelensky, who said Ukraine would be repaired with “the latest, most modern green and digital infrastructure.”

4. From our correspondents

Border village in east Poland hit by deadly fallout from war next door: Residents in a sleepy Polish village of about 400 people had become accustomed to living on the edge of a country at war. “We had been in a stressful situation since the beginning of the war — we had a lot of refugees at first,” said Grzegorz Drewnik, the mayor of Przewodow, Poland. “We got used to it.”

But a when a missile hit a grain silo Tuesday afternoon, killing two local men, they were left reeling, Post correspondent Loveday Morris reports from Przewodow.

Erin Cunningham, Mary Ilyushina, John Hudson and Loveday Morris contributed to this report.