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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Russia launched referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations who dismissed the votes as a sham and pledged not to recognise their results.

September 24, 2022 / 10:45 PM IST

The Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, may debate bills incorporating Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine into Russia on September 29, the TASS news agency reported, citing an unnamed source.

REFERENDUMS

* Russia launched referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations who dismissed the votes as a sham and pledged not to recognise their results.

* Ukrainian officials said people were banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over, armed groups were going to homes to force people to cast ballots, and employees were threatened with the sack if they did not participate.

* Reuters could not immediately verify reports of coercion.

* The votes in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were hastily organised after Ukraine recaptured large swathes of the northeast in a counter-offensive.

* Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations condemned the votes as an illegitimate precursor to illegal annexation. There are no independent observers, and much of the pre-war population has fled.

* The United States is prepared to impose additional economic costs on Russia in conjunction with U.S. allies if Moscow moves forward with annexing portions of Ukrainian territory, the White House said on Friday.

* NATO will ramp up its help for Kyiv in response to the "sham" referendums, the alliance's secretary-general said on Friday.

* Russia maintains that the referendums offer an opportunity for people in the region to express their view.

RUSSIAN MOBILISATION

* The strongly pro-Kremlin editor of Russia's state-run RT news channel expressed anger that enlistment officers were sending call-up papers to the wrong men, as frustration about a military mobilisation grew across Russia.

* The head of the Kremlin's Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, publicly announced that he had written to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu with a request to "urgently resolve" problems of the mobilisation.

* In Buryatia, a mostly rural region in Siberia, Russia's mobilisation has seen some men drafted regardless of age, military record or medical history, according to interviews with local residents, rights activists and local officials. Activists suspect that the burden of the war itself is falling on poor, ethnic minority regions to avoid triggering popular anger in the capital Moscow, 6,000 km away.

RUSSIAN GENERAL REPLACED

* In another rare public sign of turmoil at the top in Russia, the defence ministry said the deputy minister in charge of logistics, four-star General Dmitry Bulgakov, had been replaced "for transfer to another role". It gave no further details.

DIPLOMACY

* China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the "crisis" in Ukraine, its foreign minister Wang Yi told the United Nations General Assembly, adding that the pressing priority was to facilitate talks for peace.

GRAIN DEAL

* A total of 211 ships with 4.7 million tonnes of agricultural products on board have left Ukraine so far under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Ukrainian seaports, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry said.

FIGHTING

* Russia attacked a dam on the Siverskyi Donets river with a suspected short-range ballistic missile, the second strike on a dam since Sept. 15, apparently with the aim of flooding Ukrainian military crossing points, British military intelligence said on Saturday.

* A Russian missile hit a residential building in Zaporizhzhia causing casualties, the town's acting mayor told media.
Reuters
first published: Sep 24, 2022 10:45 pm