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Russia-Ukraine war: Russian conscripts being sent straight to front, Kyiv says; UK sanctions Russians linked to ‘sham referendums’ – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-09-26

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6.58pm BST

Summary

It’s almost 9pm in Kyiv. Here are the day’s key events across Ukraine, Russia and beyond.

  • Nato air forces conduct drills over Baltic Sea. Member states including the UK, Germany, Italy took part in the military training, both over water and on land, in an effort to boost eastern defences.

  • The Netherlands increases its military support for Ukraine. Prime minister Mark Rutte also announced new sanctions in response to Russia’s mobilisation and referendum.

  • The US pledges to provide Ukraine with $457.5m in civilian security aid. The support is aimed at “saving lives” and “bolstering” Ukrainian law enforcement, secretary of state Antony Blinken said.

  • The Russian Orthodox Church head says Russian soldiers who die on the battlefield will have their sins absolved. Patriach Kirill – a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and a staunch supporter of the Ukraine invasion – said the “sacrifice washes away all sins”.

  • The UK announces 92 new sanctions in response to Russia’s regime of illegal referendums in Ukraine. The package of penalties target those behind the sham votes as well as oligarchs and board members.

  • Germany debates whether it should grant asylum to Russian war refuseniks. The country is potentially prepared to give protection to deserters who face repercussions if they refuse to fight, but each case would be decided on an individual basis amid security concerns.

  • The UN’s atomic energy watchdog says it was ready for talks about setting up a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency head met the foreign ministers from both Russia and Ukraine at the UN general assembly last week to discuss the possibility.

  • Horrific consequences are in store if Russia follows through with its thinly-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons, the US warns. S ecretary of state Antony Blinken said any use of the weapons would have a “catastrophic” impact across the world.

  • Ukraine claims some Russian conscripts from the Kremlin’s mass mobilisation were being sent directly to the frontlines without training. Those included newly drafted personnel in Crimea as well as conscripts in the Luhansk region who have received draft summonses in recent days.

  • A Russian man shoots the leader of the local military draft committee in a Siberian town after telling him he would refuse to fight in Ukraine. Video showed the gunman, dressed in camouflage, firing at the official from point blank range as other potential draftees for the Russian invasion fled the room.

  • Long queues of vehicles form at the border crossing between Russia and Mongolia as people continue to flee the Kremlin’s mobilisation order. The head of a checkpoint in the town of Altanbulag said more than 3,000 Russians had entered Mongolia via the crossing since Wednesday.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy vows to liberate the entire country as Russia presses on with its supposed referendum in occupied areas of Ukraine . The Ukrainian president said the country’s armed forces would throw out Russia’s forces and retaliate against “every strike of the aggressor”.

Updated at 6.59pm BST

6.37pm BST

The UK’s chief of defence staff hosted talks with the Russian defence attaché at the Ministry of Defence in London.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin and Colonel Maxim Elovik met as part of ongoing efforts to “strengthen military to military channels of communication” with Russia.

6.13pm BST

Nato forces conduct air drills over Baltic Sea

A number of Nato member states have begun to conduct air force drills in the Baltic Sea.

Over the next two days, air forces from the UK, Germany, Italy and others will take part in military training both over water and on land in an effort to boost eastern defences.

“For the first time we are including both air- and surface-based integrated air and missile defence activities in our drills,” said exercise planner Squadron Leader Craig Docker from Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem.

“This underlines how the allies are shielding the eastern flank and – at the same time – prepare for meaningful execution of NATO’s deter and defence concept in the Baltic region.”

Updated at 6.34pm BST

5.49pm BST

The Netherlands will increase its military support for Ukraine as well as impose new sanctions against Russia, its prime minister has said.

Following a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Mark Rutte announced he would step up the response to Russia’s mobilisation and referendum.

The announcement came following a pledge from the US to provide Ukraine with $457.5m in civilian security aid.

The support is aimed at “saving lives” and “bolstering” Ukrainian law enforcement, secretary of state Antony Blinken has said.

5.09pm BST

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said Russian soldiers who die in the war against Ukraine will have their sins absolved.

Patriach Kirill – a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and a staunch supporter of the Ukraine invasion – has previously criticised those who opposed the war

“Many are dying on the fields of internecine warfare,” he said, in his first address since the mobilisation order.

“The Church prays that this battle will end as soon as possible, so that as few brothers as possible will kill each other in this fratricidal war.”

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Patriarch Kirill has previously claimed Russians were doing a “heroic deed” by killing Ukrainian soldiers Photograph: Russian Patriarchy/Reuters

“But at the same time, the Church realises that if somebody, driven by a sense of duty and the need to fulfil their oath, goes to do what their duty calls of them, and if a person dies in the performance of this duty, then they have undoubtedly committed an act equivalent to sacrifice.

“They will have sacrificed themselves for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed.”

4.34pm BST

A suspected mass grave in an industrial chicken farm in Kharkiv is being investigated by Ukrainian forces, local officials have said.

It is feared up to 100 bodies were buried in the site which was once used by Russian troops to shelter their tanks.

The area was recaptured by Ukrainian soldiers who pushed Russian forces back over the border earlier this month, however demining teams have yet to sweep the area for unexploded shells.

4.10pm BST

Summary

It’s a little past 6pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • The UK announced 92 new sanctions in response to Russia’s regime of illegal referendums in Ukraine. The package of penalties target those behind the sham votes as well as oligarchs and board members.

  • The UN’s atomic energy watchdog said it was ready for talks about setting up a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said he met the foreign ministers from both Russia and Ukraine at the UN general assembly last week to discuss the possibility.

  • Horrific consequences will be in store if Russia follows through with its thinly-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons, the US warned. S ecretary of state Antony Blinken said any use of the weapons would have a “catastrophic” impact across the world.

  • Ukraine claimed some Russian conscripts from the Kremlin’s mass mobilisation were being sent directly to the frontlines without training. Those included newly drafted personnel in Crimea as well as conscripts in the Luhansk region who have received draft summonses in recent days.

  • The Kremlin said no decisions have yet been made on closing Russian borders. President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation has seen hundreds attempt to flee Russia prompting calls for a ban on military-aged men crossing the border.

  • Ukraine’s mayor of Sievierodonetsk decried what he called the “lie and propaganda” of the “referendum from the Russian Federation” . Oleksandr Stryuk accused pro-Russian forces of bussing people in from Crimea to vote and to stage propaganda photographs.

3.28pm BST

UK announces sanctions linked to Russia's 'sham referendums' in Ukraine

The UK has announced a package of sanctions in response to Russia’s regime of illegal referendums in Ukraine.

The 92 sanctions target those behind the sham votes across the four Ukrainian regions, as well as individuals that continue to prop up Russia’s war.

Among the 33 officials being sanctioned over the referendums are Sergei Yeliseyev, the head of the recently installed government in Kherson, Ivan Kusov, the minister of education and science in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, and Yevhen Balytskyi, the supposed head of government in Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia.

Sanctions have also been placed on oligarchs – including the “kings of Russian real estate” God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev – with a net worth totalling £6.3bn, and board members from state organisations.

“Sham referendums held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair and we will never recognise their results. They follow a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture, and forced deportations in the areas of Ukraine Russia has seized,” the UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said.

Updated at 3.43pm BST

2.50pm BST

Russia’s Tass news agency is carrying some additional quotes from Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán , in which he suggests he will hold a national consultation in Hungary on whether the EU should continue sanctions against Russia. It quotes Orbán saying:

The sanctions were introduced in an undemocratic way, because it was the decision of the bureaucrats in Brussels, for which the European people are paying. We need to know the opinion of the people. For the first time in Europe, in Hungary, we will ask for the opinion about sanctions. National consultations will be launched, within which the Hungarian people will be able to express their opinion whether they support them and whether they are in favour of introducing new ones.

Tass reports that Orbán stressed he was in favour of “immediate peace talks and a ceasefire” between Ukraine and the Russian forces that invaded the country on 24 February.

2.36pm BST

This is a reminder that later today the Guardian is hosting a livestream event featuring historian Timothy Snyder in conversation with the Guardian’s foreign correspondent Luke Harding talking about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the world .

The event starts at 8pm BST, and you can find more details and book tickets here .

Membership Event: Timothy Snyder: How has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the world?

Updated at 2.38pm BST

2.33pm BST

Oleksandr Stryuk , Ukraine’s mayor of Sievierodonetsk, has posted to Telegram decrying what he called the “lie and propaganda” of the “referendum from the Russian Federation”.

Stating it was “not a referendum”, Stryuk wrote:

Realising that even this will not work and local residents will refuse to ‘vote’, the occupiers brought several buses of people from Crimea to Melitopol and Berdyansk the day before. They were supposed to help create an image for propagandist media.

He went on to say:

Another way of agitating people is intimidation, bullying, humiliation. During the period of martial law, 515 people were abducted, more than 200 of them still remain hostages. Also, the enemy continues to shell our free territory. The occupier creates unbearable living conditions for the civilian population by attacking power stations and social infrastructure. Do not respond to fakes and provocations of the occupiers. Let’s hold on! Believe in armed forces of Ukraine!

The claims have not been independently verified.

Updated at 2.39pm BST

2.23pm BST

Mykhailo Fedorov , who is digital minister in Ukraine, has posted an image of telecommunications repair work being carried out in “recently liberated territories of Kharkiv region”.

1.57pm BST

The UN’s atomic energy watchdog said it is ready to hold talks in Russia and Ukraine on setting up a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said he met the foreign minister from both countries at the UN general assembly last week to discuss the possibility of a protection zone.

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The IAEA recently carried out an inspection of the Zaporizhzhia plant and warned interim measures were needed to prevent a nuclear accident Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

“This must be done, and I am ready to continue these consultations in both countries so we can protect this plant,” he said.

“The work there will allow us to stabilise the situation that is simply unacceptable. And I’m convinced that it’s something we can do.

He insisted there must be an end to the war and the IAEA must do everything in its power to prevent a nuclear accident that “would add tragedy to the suffering”.

Updated at 2.21pm BST

1.31pm BST

Germany is furiously debating whether, and if so, under what conditions, it should be giving asylum to some of the tens of thousands of Russian war refuseniks, conscientious objectors and deserters who are seeking asylum abroad.

Interior minister Nancy Faeser said Germany is potentially prepared to give protection to deserters from anywhere in the world who face repercussions if they refuse to fight, but that cases would have to be decided on an individual basis amid security concerns.

Experts are warning of the high likelihood that agents of the federal security service, FSB – successor to the KGB – might use the opportunity to infiltrate the country.

Security expert Christoph de Vries has warned Vladimir Putin might use this chance to try to smuggle large numbers of Russian agents into Germany, but asylum experts have also urged the government to be wary of the fact that those who refuse to fight face persecution at home.

The interior ministry has also been keen to point out that this legislation, recently introduced by the EU, will protect Germany from a huge flow of Russians entering the country.

Berlin is keen for there to be a joint European stance, not least wary of the fact that if it officially signals its readiness to give asylum to Russian males, it could be inundated with hundreds of thousands of them and their families.

Other European countries, such as Poland, have refused to do so, while Latvia and Estonia have introduced a ban on Russians entering their countries, and Finland is in the process of doing so, after 20,000 reportedly crossed over the border at the weekend. Slovakia meanwhile, has said it will decide very carefully on a case by case basis.

Updated at 2.28pm BST

1.03pm BST

Russian sanctions imposed by the European Union have backfired leading to increasing energy prices, Hungary’s prime minister has said.

Criticising the action taken by the west, Viktor Orbán said it was no surprise governments across Europe were falling apart – in particular Italy, where far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is on course to become the country’s first female prime minister.

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The Brothers of Italy party, led by Giorgia Meloni, has roots in the post-second world war neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Photograph: Gregorio Borgia/AP

Updated at 2.29pm BST

12.37pm BST

Horrific consequences will be in store if Russia follows through with its thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine, the US has warned.

While announcing the mobilisation of reservists last week, Vladimir Putin again warned nuclear arms were a possibility prompting the US to send back a private warning of its own.

“We have been very clear with the Russians, publicly as well as privately, to stop the loose talk about nuclear weapons,” secretary of state Antony Blinken told CBS.

“It is very important that Moscow hears from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we’ve made that very clear.

“Any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic effects for the country using them but for many others as well.”

Updated at 2.29pm BST

12.07pm BST

New Russian conscripts from mass mobilisation being sent straight to frontline, Ukraine says

Ukraine’s armed forces general staff has claimed some Russian conscripts from the Kremlin’s mass mobilisation are being sent directly to the frontlines in Ukraine without training.

Amid warnings from the UK’s Ministry of Defence and other experts that many of those conscripted were likely to get little meaningful training – and faced the risk of “high rates of attrition” when deployed – men recently mobilised by pro-Russian occupation officials in Ukraine were also being readied for the frontline.

Those included newly drafted personnel in Crimea as well as conscripts in the Luhansk region who have received draft summonses in recent days.

The latest moves came as it was reported that Russia has also closed its border to occupied areas of Ukraine with the neighbouring Rostov region for entry and exit ordering locals to appear at military enlistment offices within three days

The first wave of Russian conscripts have begun arriving for training in Russia amid widespread scepticism among outside western analysts over what impact the call up was likely to have on Russian capabilities in Ukraine.

Following Ukraine’s success in retaking thousands of square kilometres of territory in the Kharkiv region, heavy fighting was reported on Monday morning including in the area of Lyman in the Donetsk region.

Unconfirmed reports in the past 24 hours described Russian lines collapsing in some areas while video posted on social media was described as showing Ukrainian armour moving through at least one former Russian position littered with burned out vehicles.

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilisation, suggests that many of the drafted [Russian] troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation,” said the UK MoD.

The US based Institute for the Study of War was also highly dubious about how the likely effectiveness of the Russian mobilisation.

Noting that the Kremlin “is unlikely to overcome fundamental structural challenges”.

Updated at 2.30pm BST

11.50am BST

Kremlin says no decision made on closing Russian borders as people queue to leave country

Decisions are yet to be made on whether to close Russia’s borders amid long queues of vehicles waiting to leave the country, the Kremlin has said.

President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation has seen hundreds attempt to flee Russia prompting calls for a ban on military-aged men crossing the border.

In a call with reporters, spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged some call-ups had been issued in error, and that mistakes would be corrected.

Updated at 12.26pm BST

11.06am BST

Summary of the day so far …

  • A Russian man has shot the leader of the local military draft committee in a Siberian town after telling him he would refuse to fight in the war in Ukraine. The incident took place in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, a town of about 85,000 people in the Irkutsk region in Siberia. Video showed the gunman, dressed in camouflage, firing at the official from point blank range as other potential draftees for the Russian invasion fled the room. Reports say that at least three shots were fired.

  • Protests against the Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilisation order appeared to continue on Sunday in the Russian republic of Dagestan, with videos showing standoffs between police and the public. Video footage posted on social media showed police arresting demonstrators protesting against the order to draft 3 00,000 more Russians to the army for the war effort in Ukraine.

  • Long queues of vehicles were at border crossing between Russia and Mongolia on Sunday as people continued to flee the Kremlin’s mobilisation order, AFP reported. The head of a checkpoint in the town of Altanbulag told the agency that more than 3,000 Russians had entered Mongolia via the crossing since Wednesday.

  • Sergei Tsekov , a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has called for the Russian border to be shut “to ban anyone who is of military age from traveling abroad”.

  • The Russian news agency RIA Novosti is carrying some turnout figures for the widely derided “referendums” in occupied Donetsk , Luhansk , Zaporizhzhia and Kherson which began on Friday. The figures suggest that turnout has been sufficient for the proxy-Russian authorities to declare them legitimate, ranging from 77% in Donetsk to 49% in Kherson.

  • Pro-Russian authorities have claimed that in Rubizhne in occupied Luhansk, a polling station had to be moved to a reserve location after shelling from Ukrainian forces hit the school where it was due to be held.

  • Energoatom , the state-run nuclear enterprise in Ukraine which manages nuclear power stations including the occupied plant at Zaporizhzhia, has accused pro-Russian forces within Zaporizhzhia of staging the appearance that staff voted in the widelycondemned referendum being held in the region.

  • Serbia will not recognise Russian annexation “referendums” in occupied Ukrainian areas . The Serbian foreign minister, Nikola Selakovic, said the referendums “completely contradict our state and national interests, our policy of dealing with territorial integrity, sovereignty and the principle of inviolability of borders”.

  • Two drones launched by Russian forces into the Odesa region in Ukraine hit military objects causing a fire and the detonation of ammunition.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to liberate the entire country as Russia pressed on with its supposed referendum in occupied areas of Ukraine and so-called election workers accompanied by masked gunmen knocked on doors to get people to vote. The Ukrainian president said the country’s armed forces would throw out Russia’s forces and retaliate against “every strike of the aggressor”. He vowed that Ukraine would regain control of the southern Kherson region and the eastern Donbas, saying: “Every murderer and torturer will be brought to justice.”

  • Ukraine’s president renewed calls for western allies to cut Russian banks from Swift , the global banking system that allows banks to send messages to each other. “If we cut Russian banks from Swift, we need to cut all Russian banks from Swift,” he said.

  • Zelenskiy has also claimed in a US television interview that Ukraine has discovered two more mass burial sites containing the bodies of hundreds of people in the north-eastern town of Izium.

  • Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin , a close ally of President Vladimir Putin , has said explicitly for the first time today that he founded the Wagner mercenary group and confirmed its deployment to countries in Latin America and Africa.

  • Moldova’s president Maia Sandu has said that her country may revoke the citizenship of those who go to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

  • Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is meeting Putin on Monday in Sochi.

  • Japan will ban exports of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia, and is “deeply concerned” about the possible use of nuclear weapons, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Monday.

Updated at 2.35pm BST

10.41am BST

Moldova’s president Maia Sandu has said that her country may revoke the citizenship of those who go to fight for Russia in Ukraine, according to a report from Reuters.

Sandu said there was a risk that some people with dual Moldovan and Russian citizenship could be called up to fight.

“To prevent that happening, we are analysing the possibility of applying the process of revoking Moldovan citizenship for those people (with Russian passports) who fight on the side of the aggressor,” Sandu said.

“We are also looking at the possibility of making punishment harsher for Moldovan citizens (without Russian passports) … who are in the ranks of the aggressor’s armed forces,” she said.

Updated at 10.54am BST

10.05am BST

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti is carrying some turnout figures for the widely derided “referendums” in occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. The figures suggest that turnout has been sufficient for the proxy-Russian authorities to declare them legitimate, ranging from 77% in Donetsk to 49% in Kherson.

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A woman using a mobile voting station in occupied Mariupol. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine’s authorities have described the process as a “propaganda show” and it is unlikely that the results will be recognised as official, or that the referendums will be deemed to have been free or fair in many places outside of the Russian Federation.

Updated at 10.54am BST

10.01am BST

Sergei Tsekov , a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has, according to the RIA Novosti news agency, called for the Russian border to be shut “to ban anyone who is of military age from traveling abroad”.

The agency quotes him also saying it is necessary to increase the fine for evading a summons from 3,000 to 50,000 roubles.

Updated at 10.51am BST

9.52am BST

Here is an image that has been issued of the meeting between Vladimir Putin and the Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi in Russia.

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Russian President Putin and Belarus leader Lukashenko. Photograph: SPUTNIK/Reuters

There are some quite punchy quotes being attributed to Lukashenko about the reports of an exodus of young men from Russia over the partial mobilisation that was announced last week.

9.40am BST

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin , a close ally of President Vladimir Putin , said explicitly for the first time today that he had founded the Wagner mercenary group and confirmed its deployment to countries in Latin America and Africa.

Reuters reports Prigozhin said in a statement from his company that he founded the group in order to send fighters to Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014. He said: “From that moment, on 1 May 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later acquired the name BTG Wagner.”

Prigozhin, dubbed “Putin’s chef” because of his Kremlin catering contracts, has previously denied links with Wagner.

Last month, Pjotr Sauer reported for the Guardian how the group had become prominent during Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine.

Related: Russia’s private military contractor Wagner comes out of the shadows in Ukraine war

Updated at 9.53am BST

9.00am BST

In an overnight interview broadcast by CBS in the US, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has claimed Ukraine has discovered two more mass burial sites containing the bodies of hundreds of people in the north-eastern town of Izium.

Reuters quotes him telling viewers in the US: “Today I received more information. They found two more mass graves, big graves with hundreds of people. We’re talking about (the) little town of Izium.”

Last week, Ukrainian authorities finished exhuming the bodies of 436 people in a mass grave in the town. The regional governor said the majority of them appeared to have died violent deaths, and there were preliminary indications that 30 of them had been tortured.”

Updated at 9.54am BST

8.41am BST

Reuters has a quick snap that state media in Belarus are reporting that the Belarus leader, Alexander Lukashenko, will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin today.

Russia used Belarus as a staging post for its latest invasion of Ukraine. In February 2022, despite Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying that Russian troops would be “pulled back to their permanent bases” after the conclusion of joint military drills with Belarus, Moscow instead launched its failed attempt to take Kyiv.

Two days ago, Lukashenko appeared to rule out mobilisation in Belarus, saying: “The mobilisation is in Russia … there will be no mobilisation (here).”

Updated at 8.43am BST

8.26am BST

Gen Sir Richard Barrons , former commander joint forces command in the British army, has been interviewed on Sky News this morning in the UK. He told viewers that Russia’s newly mobilised recruits “won’t be very well trained and probably not very well equipped”, and that “they won’t necessarily be very enthusiastic”.

He said: “Russia would have to invest in training and equipping these large numbers of people that would take them well into next year. And it just doesn’t look like they have the training machinery, the logistics, or the weapons to make this really work anytime soon.”

On the battlefield, he said the approaching winter weather would make an impact, explaining: “It gets wet in October, which means that moving tanks and trucks and big loads of artillery ammunition becomes harder and slower.

“And then as the cold comes in, simply living in the field is harder. Shorter hours of daylight mean something simple like using drones that don’t have night vision capability becomes more restricted. The weather will slow things down. But the war won’t stop just because it gets cold.”

He was dismissive that the widely derided referendums being carried out would make a strategic difference to Ukraine, saying: “The key question though, is whether [the Ukrainians] can sustain that forward movement in the north and the south.”

He added “[The referendum] is just a device that allows [Russia] to claim that this territory, this part of Ukraine is somehow now magicked into Russia, and therefore could be protected by the full force of the Russian state. It is going to make no difference to what Ukraine does. It should make no difference to what the west does in supporting Ukraine.”

Updated at 8.36am BST

8.15am BST

Energoatom , the state-run nuclear enterprise in Ukraine which manages nuclear power stations including the occupied plant at Zaporizhzhia, has accused pro-Russian forces within Zaporizhzhia of staging the appearance that staff voted in the widely-condemned referendum being held in the region. It said on Telegram:

They staged another performance near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, pretending to be the staff of the nuclear plant as invited mobsters.

A large group of men in civilian clothes waited for the end of the shift at the station and mingled with its staff who were leaving after the shift.

Along the way, those lined up gave interviews to pro-Russian propaganda media and shouted words of support for Russia and the pseudo-referendum, after which they went to the bus in which the “voting” was held and demonstratively filled out the ballots.

This fact once again proves that among the patriotic workers of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, no one volunteered to participate in the occupying farce, so the propagandists were once again forced to make a “good” picture for Russian customers.

The claims have not been independently verified.

8.10am BST

Here is another image from inside occupied Mariupol , which shows the city’s mayor imposed by Russian authorities, Konstantin Ivashchenko, alongside an armed guard as “voting” takes place in the open air in the city.

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Mayor of Mariupol Konstantin Ivashchenko (front left) checks a mobile phone as he stands near a woman and an armed serviceman at an outdoor ‘polling station’ in occupied Mariupol. Photograph: EPA

Updated at 8.14am BST

7.35am BST

Local military commandant in recruiting office shot in Siberia – reports

Andrew Roth reports for the Guardian from Moscow:

A Russian man has shot the leader of the local military draft committee in a Siberian town after telling him he would refuse to fight in the war in Ukraine .

The incident took place in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, a town of about 85,000 people in the Irkutsk region in Siberia.

Video showed the gunman, dressed in camouflage, firing at the official from point blank range as other potential draftees for the Russian invasion fled the room. Reports say that at least three shots were fired.

There are conflicting reports about whether the commandant, who also heads the local draft board, has died. Video showed him being carried from the building and placed on to a stretcher. He was not moving in the video.

The Irkutsk regional governor, Igor Kobzev, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that the draft office head was in hospital in a critical condition, and that the detained shooter “will absolutely be punished”.

According to a witness, the man shot the military commandant after he had given a “clumsy” pep talk for the men to go and fight in Ukraine. “Nobody is going to go anywhere,” the man said moments before opening fire, a witness told the Baikal People news outlet.

It is the latest incident tied to Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Russian men receiving their call-up papers.

A half-dozen draft centres have been torched in arson attacks in the last week, and police made hundreds of arrests across the country in order to disperse local protests sparked by the announcement.

Updated at 8.03am BST

7.31am BST

Alex Rossi is the Sky News correspondent in Moscow. He has offered this analysis this morning, saying:

We’re now five days into this [mobilisation]. It doesn’t seem to really have gone down very well. Bear in mind that Russia, of course, is a very heavily securitised police state where dissent isn’t tolerated, but there have been sporadic protests all over the country.

The number of people that they’re trying to draft is 300,000. That’s almost double the initial invasion force. So it is a reflection of how badly things are going on the battlefield for the Kremlin, and just shows that they have a very significant manpower problem.

How these protests continue, we don’t know whether they will grow, there’s certainly the possibility of a really significant domestic backlash. Although they are small, it is significant that they’re happening at all, and that will be a serious worry for Vladimir Putin going forward.

Updated at 7.34am BST

7.27am BST

The Tass news agency is reporting that in Rubizhne in occupied Luhansk, a polling station for the widely-derided referendum being held there by proxy Russian authorities has had to be moved to a reserve location after shelling from Ukrainian forces hit the school where it was due to be held. The claims have not been independently verified.

7.19am BST

Russia’s RIA Novosti agency is carrying a quote from Kirill Stremousov , who is one of the leaders of the Russian-imposed administration in the occupied Kherson region. It reports he says he anticipates Kherson becoming part of the Russian Federation at the earliest opportunity, saying:

My personal opinion: this will happen in the near future, because the sooner we become part of the Russian Federation, becoming a full-fledged subject, the sooner we will be able to establish a peaceful life.

The “referendums” organised by the occupying authorities in eastern Ukraine continue today.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=42kxw6_0iAG7TcO00
People in Mariupol, which spent months being besieged by Russian forces, cast “votes” in the back of a car on Sunday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

7.11am BST

Vitaliy Kim , governor of Mykolaiv, has posted a status update to Telegram of damage caused overnight in his region by Russian shelling.

He claims that an attack was made on an industrial zone on the outskirts of the city and that more than 15 houses and a school were damaged in one village, while one two-story residential building and an agricultural enterprise in another were hit. No casualties have been recorded overnight.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Updated at 7.21am BST

6.41am BST

Japan will ban exports of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia, and is “deeply concerned” about the possible use of nuclear weapons, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Monday.

Reuters reported that Japan also added 21 Russian organisations, such as science labs, to the list of entities subject to export bans.

“Japan is deeply concerned about the possibility of nuclear weapons used during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Matsuno told media, adding Japan will continue to work with the international society in supporting Ukraine and sanctioning Russia.

Updated at 6.43am BST

6.22am BST

The news that Giorgia Meloni has claimed victory in Italy’s elections, putting her on course to create the most rightwing government since the end of the second world war, is unlikely to be welcomed by Paris or Brussels. They are seeking to keep Europe united in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Meloni has condemned Russia’s invasion and supported sending weapons to Ukraine, but it remains unclear whether her government will back the eighth round of EU sanctions being discussed in Brussels. Matteo Salvini, whose far-right League forms part of her coalition, has claimed the sanctions were bringing Italy to its knees. However, he never blocked any EU measures against Russia when in Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government, which collapsed in July.

Related: Italy elections: Giorgia Meloni hails ‘night of pride’ as exit polls point to far-right coalition victory

Updated at 6.46am BST

6.20am BST

The initial tranches of men called up under Russia’s partial mobilisation have started arriving at military bases, according to the UK Ministry of Defence’s latest update.

Many tens of thousands of call-up papers have been issued, according to UK MoD, which said Russia will faces an administrative and logistical challenge to provide training for the troops.

Here is the UK analysis:

Unlike most western armies, the Russian military provides low-level, initial training to soldiers within their designated operational units, rather than in dedicated training establishments.

Typically, one battalion within each Russian brigade will remain in garrison if the other two deploy and can provide a cadre of instructors to train new recruits or augmentees.
However, Russia has deployed many of these third battalions to Ukraine.

Many of the drafted troops will not have had any military experience for some years. The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilisation, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the frontline with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.

Updated at 6.44am BST

6.15am BST

The US has warned Russia privately of “catastrophic” consequences if it uses nuclear weapons, US officials said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear arms in a speech last week as he announced the mobilization of reservists.

“It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we’ve made that very clear,” Blinken said of Putin’s comments as he spoke to the CBS News program “60 Minutes”.

6.14am BST

Two drones launched by Russian forces into the Odesa region in Ukraine hit military objects causing a fire and the detonation of ammunition, according to a report by Reuters.

“As a result of a large-scale fire and the detonation of ammunition, the evacuation of the civilian population was organised,” the South command of Ukraine’s forces said in a statement on the Telegram. “Preliminarily, there have been no casualties.”

6.14am BST

Summary

It’s just past 8.10am in Ukraine. Here are the latest developments:

  • The United States and its allies will act “decisively” if Russia uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the US national security adviser said . Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday: “We have communicated directly, privately and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia , that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail.”

  • Protests against the Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilisation order appeared to continue on Sunday in the Russian republic of Dagestan, with videos showing standoffs between police and the public. Video footage posted on social media showed police arresting demonstrators protesting against the order to draft 3 00,000 more Russians to the army for the war effort in Ukraine.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to liberate the entire country as Russia pressed on with its supposed referendum in occupied areas of Ukraine and so-called election workers accompanied by masked gunmen knocked on doors to get people to vote. The Ukrainian president said the country’s armed forces would throw out Russia’s forces and retaliate against “every strike of the aggressor”. He vowed that Ukraine would regain control of the southern Kherson region and the eastern Donbas, saying: “Every murderer and torturer will be brought to justice.”

  • The UK prime minister, Liz Truss, has said its allies France and the US should continue to support Ukraine in the face of the Russian president’s increased threats and his military call-up. Truss said Vladimir Putin was escalating the war because he was not winning and had made a mistake.

  • Long queues of vehicles were at border crossing between Russia and Mongolia on Sunday as people continued to flee the Kremlin’s mobilisation order, AFP reported. The head of a checkpoint in the town of Altanbulag told the agency that more than 3,000 Russians had entered Mongolia via the crossing since Wednesday.

  • Serbia will not recognise Russian annexation “referendums” in occupied Ukrainian areas . The Serbian foreign minister, Nikola Selakovic, said the referendums “completely contradict our state and national interests, our policy of dealing with territorial integrity, sovereignty and the principle of inviolability of borders”.

  • Zelenskiy has renewed calls for western allies to cut Russian banks from Swift , the global banking system that allows banks to send messages to each other. “If we cut Russian banks from Swift, we need to cut all Russian banks from Swift,” he said.

  • Zelenskiy also said that Ukraine has received Nasams (national advance surface-to-air missile systems) air defence missiles from the US. In a TV interview, Zelenskiy thanked President Joe Biden and confirmed that Ukraine now had the systems in the country. Zelenskiy also said Russia’s military call-up was a tacit acknowledgment that its “army is not able to fight”.

  • Thousands of Hassidic Jewish pilgrims flocked to central Ukraine to mark the Jewish new year on Sunday, ignoring international travel warnings as Russian forces attacked more targets from the air. The pilgrims, many travelling from Israel and farther afield, converged on the small city of Uman, the burial site of Nachman of Breslov, a respected Hassidic rabbi who died in 1810, Associated Press reported.

  • The Ukrainian ambassador to the UK has issued a plea for continued “generosity” and “patience” from those offering a home to refugees in Britain. Vadym Prystaiko said Ukraine needed “much more” help from the UK as the country fought Moscow’s invasion, with the Kremlin’s military call-up amounting to “something formidable”.

  • Israel will treat 20 Ukrainian soldiers who have been injured in the war with Russia , according to the Israeli ambassador to Ukraine . The first two patients would arrive on Sunday for treatment at Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, envoy Michael Brodsky said.

  • Aiden Aslin, one of the five British nationals released by Russia last week, has given his first media interview after returning to the UK. He told the Sun on Sunday that he was kept in solitary confinement for five months and “treated worse than a dog”.

Updated at 7.01am BST

Comments / 113

Speedysue
09-26

Russia won't win. period.ujraube has more in her dude and the people are passionate about Freedom. Russians are enslaved and want to be free from communism. they don't want war because they are already poor. they don't want to be even more poor.

Reply(4)
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Larry Williams
09-26

I think it's necessary to provide protection for the Russian refugees from Putins mobilization of his people to die in a frugal war because of his illiterate behavior it is criminal and shameful for him to get away with this his people should crucify him

Reply(6)
16
Big Joe
09-26

Russia is set in it's old Soviet ways .They will crumble if Ukraine keeps there offensive going..

Reply(3)
15

Comments / 0