(Reuters) – Russia has sought to defend its seven-month old war at the United Nations, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Saturday that regions of Ukraine where widely-derided referendums are being held would be under Russia’s “full protection” if they are annexed by Moscow. REFERENDUMS * Russia launched the referendums on Friday aimed at […]
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
(Reuters) – Russia has sought to defend its seven-month old war at the United Nations, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Saturday that regions of Ukraine where widely-derided referendums are being held would be under Russia’s “full protection” if they are annexed by Moscow.
* Russia launched the referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations who dismissed the votes as a sham and pledged not to recognise their results.
* The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, may debate bills incorporating the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine into Russia on Sept. 29, the state-run TASS news agency said on Saturday, citing an unnamed source.
* Ukrainian officials have 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.
* Russia’s two most senior lawmakers addressed a string of complaints about Russia’s mobilisation drive, ordering regional officials to get a handle on the situation and swiftly solve the “excesses” that have stoked public anger.
* The strongly pro-Kremlin editor of Russia’s state-run RT news channel expressed anger on Saturday that enlistment officers were sending call-up papers to the wrong men, as frustration about the mobilisation announced on Wednesday grew across Russia.
* The head of the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, said on Saturday he had written to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu with a request to “urgently resolve” problems of the mobilisation.
RUSSIAN GENERAL REPLACED
* In another rare public sign of turmoil at the top in Russia, the defence ministry said on Saturday the deputy minister in charge of logistics, four-star General Dmitry Bulgakov, had been replaced “for transfer to another role”.
* Ukraine and Russia traded accusations on Sunday of attacks on civilians in southern Ukraine.
* Ukraine’s military said early on Sunday that Russian forces had launched dozens of missile attacks and air strikes on military and civilian targets in the past 24 hours.
* Russia also used drones to attack the centre of the southern city of Odesa, Ukraine’s military said. No casualties were reported.
* Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians. Its RIA state news agency reported that Ukrainian forces bombed a hotel in the city of Kherson, killing two people. Russian forces have occupied the southern city since the early days of the invasion.
* There was no immediate response from Ukraine.
* Reuters could not verify either side’s claims.
* “We will definitely liberate our entire country – from Kherson to the Luhansk region, from Crimea to the Donetsk region. We will not allow the occupier to go unpunished. Every murderer and torturer will be brought to justice for what he did against Ukrainians,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday.
(Compiled by Robert Birsel, Peter Graff and Frances Kerry)