June 15, 2024

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Ukraine Russia war latest: Putin claims victory in ‘sham referendums’ as ‘sabotage’ behind Nord Stream 2 leaks

Ukraine Russia war latest: Putin claims victory in ‘sham referendums’ as ‘sabotage’ behind Nord Stream 2 leaks

Anti-mobilisation protestors in Russia shout ‘we are not meat’

Pro-Kremlin officials have claimed that three parts of occupied Ukrainian territory have voted to join Russia, following votes that Kyiv and the West dismissed as “sham referendums”.

Voting started in the provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia last week after a series of humiliating military setbacks for Moscow.

Meanwhile, European leaders say they suspect sabotage in the big leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines – the two natural gas lines running from Russia to Germany underneath the Baltic sea – as the continent’s standoff with Russia on energy continues.

Poland’s prime minister suggested Russia had taken the move to escalate its punishment of European countries for their opposition to the war in Ukraine. The US said it was ready to stand by its European partners.

And Denmark has said it believes “deliberate actions” caused the big leaks in the pipeline running from Russia to Europe, as it warned ship traffic to avoid the region.

According to seismologists, a powerful explosion preceded the leaks.

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Italy’s Meloni tells Ukraine it can count on her

Nationalist leader Giorgia Meloni, set to become Italy’s next prime minister, has pledged her full support for Kyiv after receiving congratulations from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for her election victory.

In a Tweet late on Tuesday, a day after Meloni and her right-wing allies won a commanding parliamentary majority, Zelensky said he was looking forward to “fruitful cooperation with the new government”.

Meloni replied swiftly. “Dear (Zelensky), you know that you can count on our loyal support for the cause of freedom of Ukrainian people. Stay strong and keep your faith steadfast!” she wrote in English on Twitter.

Meloni has been one of the few Italian political leaders to wholeheartedly endorse outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s decision to ship weapons to Ukraine, even though she was in opposition to his government.

By contrast, Meloni’s two political allies, the League and Forza Italia, which were both in Draghi’s coalition, have been much more ambivalent, reflecting their historically close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Underscoring the depth of those ties, Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi said last week that Putin had been “pushed” into invading Ukraine and had wanted to put “decent people” in charge of Kyiv.

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US, allies scale up intelligence after Putin’s nuclear threats

The US and its allied intelligence agencies have bolstered their efforts to track any Russian military moves indicating the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, reported Politico citing five current and former US officials.

The officials are mobilising additional US and allied intelligence assets in the air, space and cyberspace, and relying heavily on commercial satellites to analyse Russian units in the field that might be in position to receive a nuclear strike order, one of the officials said.

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Newly mobilised reservists begin training in Kaliningrad, says Russia

The newly mobilised reservists by Russia have started their combat training at the base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, Moscow’s defence ministry said today.

“All mobilised military personnel comply with the standards for shooting from small arms. In addition, citizens called up from the reserve restore their skills in the operation and maintenance of weapons, military and special equipment,” the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

The troops will be taught how to increase firing skills in the course and prepared for “confident actions on the battlefield”.

A Russian Baltic coast enclave enveloped between Nato and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad is a base with significant Russian military presence.

It also has Russia’s nuclear-capable missiles, its Baltic fleet and tens of thousands of soldiers.

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Canada to slap new sanctions on Russia over ‘sham’ referendums in Ukraine

Justin Trudeau has said he intends to roll out new sanctions over Russia’s “sham” referendums in occupied regions of Ukraine.

“Canada does not and will not ever recognize the results of these sham referendums or Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories,” the Canadian prime minister said in a statement.

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Men try to flee to Georgia to avoid Russian mobilisation

Private cars swarmed the Verkhny Lars border crossing in Georgia where Russian men are reaching to escape Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation order.

A line of private vehicles leaving the country in an attempt to gain access to Georgia and Mongolia, where visas are not required for entry, has stretched more than 10 miles.

“With this mobilisation, it’s just becoming a bigger, large-scale war that is totally not justified. It wasn’t justified before and it’s not justified now. And it won’t come to anything good,” said Misha, one such man entering Georgia.

Watch the full video here:

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Russia claims victory in Ukraine ‘sham referendums’

Three parts of occupied Ukrainian territory have chosen to join Russia, local pro-Kremlin officials in the regions announced, after five days of voting that Kyiv and the west condemned as “sham referendums”.

Moscow-backed separatists said on Tuesday that 93 per cent of ballots in Zaporizhzhia were cast in favour of Russian annexation.

The counts in the southern Kherson region and the eastern Luhansk region were similarly one-sided, they claimed.

Voting started in the provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia last Thursday, shortly after a series of humiliating military setbacks for Moscow.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has recaptured thousands of square kilometres of land, most notably in the northeast regions of Kharkiv – representing a major shift in the course of the war.

Read the full story here:

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Huge explosions detected close to Russian gas pipeline after leaks caused by ‘sabotage’

Seismologists recorded powerful underwater explosions in Denmark and Sweden before the discovery of gas leaks in major Russian gas pipelines to Europe.

The announcement of the explosions came after Denmark’s prime minister claimed the leaks may have been caused by sabotage.

“There is no doubt that these were explosions,” Bjorn Lund, a seismologist at Sweden’s National Seismology Centre told SVT.

If the explosions are linked to sabotaged leaks, it could dramatically escalate European concerns over the supply of Russian energy to the continent, which many nations remain reliant on despite a scramble to find other sources since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read the full story here:

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Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Wednesday, 28 September.