The UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said Thursday she was "appalled" by Russia's attack on a hotel in Zaporizhzhia that was used as a main base for for UN staff and members of other humanitarian organizations.
"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," she said in a statement, calling it "utterly inadmissible."
Brown said she and her colleagues had stayed at the hotel during their previous visits to the region. The hotel served as theUN base for the operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol last year, she added.
"The number of indiscriminate attacks hitting civilian infrastructure, killing and injuring civilians, have reached unimaginable levels – these attacks violate international humanitarian law," Brown said.
She called on the Russia to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and immediately stop indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine.
Ukraine's Defense Ministrysaid the hotel was also the site of achildren's day camp that finished its daily operations about an hour before Russia's attack.
Some context: Russian missiles struck the hotel on Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least 16 others, which included four children.
In an attack on a Zaporizhzhia hotel,at least 16 people — including four children — were injured, according to Yurii Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia region militaryadministration.
Among the injured children is a 3-year-old girl.One person was killed in the attack, authorities said.
Meanwhile, in the Kharkiv region, a woman was killed and two men were injured after Russian shelling in villages,according to Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv region military administration.
Here are the latest developments:
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- Biden asks Congress for $24 billion in more Ukraine assistance:President Joe Biden is asking Congressfor more than $24 billionfor Ukraine and other international needs as he works to sustain support for the war amid signs of softening support among Americans. The request — which includes more than $13 billion in security assistance and $7.3 billion for economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine — sets up a potential battle with Republicans in Congress.
- Founder of Russian tech company calls war "barbaric":Arkady Volozh, the founder and former CEO of Russia’s largest internet company, criticized President Vladimir Putin's "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine,becoming one of the most prominent Russian businessmen to express criticism of what Russia still calls euphemistically its "special military operation."
- Kupiansk evacuation:Ukrainian authorities issued amandatory evacuationorder for the Kupiansk area on Thursday. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed earlier that its forces have captured Ukrainian positions around Kupiansk in Kharkiv region – a city Ukraine had managed to liberate in September last year, but on which Russian forces are again now advancing. In July, a Ukrainian official said Russia had amassed tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks in the area, as it tries to reclaim the territory.
- Poland-Belarus border:Poland plans to move around10,000 troops to the borderwith Belarus, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Thursday. Blaszczak said that 4,000 will directly support the border guard, while the remaining 6,000 will be in reserve. The decision comes amid mounting tensions with Belarus, which announced it would hold jointmilitary exercises with Wagner troopsnear the Polish border, and which Poland accused last week of violating its airspace.
Thehotel hit by Russian missiles in Zaporizhzhiaon Thursday is the site of achildren's day camp that finished its daily operations about an hour before the attack, Ukraine's defense ministry said.
"They were targeting children. The Reikartz hotel in Zaporizhzhia, which was hit by a missile attack by Russian terrorists today, is the site of a children's day camp for kids aged 6 to 13," the ministrytweeted."The camp operates until 6 p.m. every day. The strike was launched at 7 p.m. One person was killed, and 16 were injured. Only a miracle of timing saved the children from the russian [sic] killers today."
The hotel was also frequently used by UN personnel and members of other humanitarian organizations helping residents in the area.
The Russian Investigative Committee detained the technical director of the Piro-Ross company on Thursday, after a massive explosion at the company's plant in Sergiev Posad on Wednesday.
“Investigators interrogated employees of the organization from among the leadership. As a result, the technical director of Piro-Ross was detained as a suspect,” the Investigative committee’s statement said.
Investigators also searched the premises of the Piro-Ross company.
“Documents relevant to the investigation, including job descriptions of employees, were confiscated,” the statement said.
As of Thursday morning, 12 people remain missing, 60 victims have been treated, and one woman died in hospital, according to authorities. Rescuers are continuing to search the rubble.
"Thus, at the moment, the fate of 12 people who are considered missing is being established," according to an official of the Investigative Committee, Olga Vradiy.
Moscow region authorities have rejected suggestions that a drone attack was responsible for the explosion.
The plant is a developer and manufacturer for optical and optoelectronic devices for the Russian military, law enforcement agencies, industry and healthcare.
Ukrainian officials say that substantial Russian reinforcements have turned the northern front in the eastern Kharkiv region into the "epicenter" of hostilities, but that Ukrainian defenses are holding.
Ruslan Muzychuk, the National Guard spokesman, told Ukrainian television Thursday that "the Kupyansk direction remains the epicenter of hostilities, where the enemy is concentrating its main efforts."
"The number of enemy forces and means and its recent activation in this area of the front are aimed at trying to turn the tide in this section of the front," Muzychuk added.
Muzychuk said the Russians had brought in airborne assault units "and they have been reinforced by tank units, which, with the support of aviation and artillery, are attempting to assault the positions of Ukrainian defenders."
"In recent weeks, more than 50 air attacks have been taking place every day, and sometimes more than 80," he said.
The Russian offensive was designed to draw more Ukrainian units into the area, Muzychuk said, but he did not rule out an attempt to capture the city of Kupiansk itself.
Russia trying to "seize the initiative": Another National Guard official, Mykola Urshalovych, said that Ukrainian units had managed tohold the dominant heights around Vilshana and Novoselivske, two villages east of Kupiansk where the Russians claim to have made some advances.
Serhii Cherevatyi, Deputy Commander of the Eastern Military Group, said that the "Kupyansk direction remains one of those where the enemy is trying to seize the initiative."
Cherevatyi said defenses "have been strengthened, and strike capabilities have been enhanced. So the situation is difficult but under control."
He added that in a single day, the Russians had used artillery 559 times in addition to air raids.
The Ukrainian State Emergency Service said that on Thursday morning the city of Kupiansk had been shelled again, setting off a fire but causing no casualties.
Following the announcement of a mandatory evacuation for civilians in Kupiansk, Andriy Kanashevych, the acting Head of Kupiansk district military administration, said that "Russian terrorists are becoming even more cynical and completely indifferent to human life. As a result, almost every day we have dead and wounded among the civilian population."
"We suggest that residents of Kupyansk district make a responsible and informed decision to temporarily leave for the safe territories of Kharkiv region," Kanashevych said.
The Ukrainian navy has announced temporary corridors for civilian shipping in the Black Sea following the suspension of the Grain Initiative.
Russia withdrew from the arrangement last month.
The Ukrainian navy issued an order declaring "temporary corridors for merchant ships sailing to/from Ukrainian ports."
"At the same time, it is reported that the military threat and mine danger from the Russian Federation remains along all routes," it said.
Currently, merchant ships are not traveling to and from the Ukrainian port of Odesa or neighboring harbors, crippling the export of grain from those ports. The last ship with grain on board left Odesa on July 16.
It's unclear that the Ukrainian order will have much impact on the willingness of merchant shipping to travel much beyond the Danube ports in the western Black Sea.
The Ukrainian navy said the routes it had announced "will primarily be used to allow civilian vessels that have been in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhnyi since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022 to leave."