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Ukraine news latest: Western leaders SLAM Putin’s ‘sham’ referendums as results claim 96% want to join Russia

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WESTERN leaders have SLAMMED the "sham" referendums that took place across Ukraine today, as Russian sources reported that 96% of voters want to join Putin's regime.

The ballots closed today on votes in Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south, as Putin desperately attempts to consolidate his gains in Ukraine.

Western leaders have already slammed the votes, with President Zelensky branding them "illegal."

Meanwhile, NATO hit out at the referendums, calling them a "violation of international law."

According to reports in Russia, over 96% of the votes counted are in favour of joining Putin's brutal regime, a figure dismissed by leaders across the democratic west.

Read our Ukraine-Russia live blog below for the latest updates...

  • Henry Moore

    Danish PM brands Nord Stream leaks 'deliberate actions'

    The Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, told CNN today that her government believes the leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream pipeline today were "deliberate actions."

    Massive gas leaks struck the pipeline, which provides Europe with energy, today, with many European leaders accusing Russia of sabotage.

    When asked if she sees this potential attack as a declaration of war, she said "No...we do not see a direct military threat against Denmark."

  • Henry Moore

    Putin to address Russian parliament on Friday

    According to the British Ministry of Defence, Putin will address the Russian parliament this Friday, where he will likely announce the formal accession of the captured Ukrainian territories.

    The MoD statement reads: “President Putin is scheduled to address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday 30 September.

    “There is a realistic possibility that Putin will use his address to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The referendums currently underway within these territories are scheduled to conclude on 27 September.

    “Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict.

    “This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield sets-backs and significant unease about the partial mobilisation announced last week.”

  • Henry Moore

    Draft papers handed to men fleeing Russia

    Draft papers will be handed to men fleeing Russia via the Georgian border, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

    This comes as thousands of Russians attempt to flee Putin's regime, following the announcement of his partial mobilisation policy.

    Putin hopes to draft a staggering 300,000 extra soldiers in the coming weeks, a policy that has caused mass protests throughout Russia.

  • Henry Moore

    Russian losses continue to mount as Putin calls on 300,000 reservists

    As Putin desperately calls on his reserve forces, leading to massive protests throughout Russia, his army has continued to lose troops.

    According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, Russian losses have reached 57,750.

    On top of this, Putin’s forces have lost 4,881 tanks and 261 jets.

  • Henry Moore

    Swedish authorities begin investigation into Russian sabotage

    Following the explosions recorded near the Nord Stream pipelines today, Swedish authorities have begun an investigation into Russian sabotage.

    “We have established a report and the crime classification is gross sabotage,” a national police spokesperson said, according to Reuters.

    Russia has also accused Europe of sabotaging the pipeline.

  • Henry Moore

    President Zelensky brands Russian referenda 'illegal'

    Taking to Twitter, the steadfast Ukrainian President condemned the "sham" referenda enacted by Russia in Ukraine this week.

    Zelensky deemed these votes "illegal."

    The leader also revealed he has been discussing battlefield developments with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

  • Henry Moore

    UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by thousands arrested during protests

    The UN voiced alarm on Tuesday at credible reports of nearly 2,400 arrests in less than a week of protests in Russia against the draft ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

    “We are deeply disturbed by the large number of people who have reportedly been arrested,” United Nations rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

    Russian authorities have cracked down on criticism of the war in Ukraine, arresting thousands of protesters since the beginning of the conflict in February.

    But the arrests have sky-rocketed since Putin announced last Wednesday a partial military mobilisation to bolster troops in Ukraine.

    Shamdasani pointed to “credible reports (that) some 2,377 demonstrators had been arrested… in various locations across the country”.

    “It is unclear how many people remain in detention,” she said.

  • Henry Moore

    A visual update on the war in Ukraine

    The British Ministry of Defence has provided another visual overview of the situation in Ukraine.

    Ukraine continued its advance in Kharkiv this week, while "sham" referenda took place in Russian-occupied regions.

    This Friday may see Putin announce that all occupied regions are being absorbed into Russia, a move that would be a massive escalation in this conflict.

  • Henry Moore

    Voting ends in 'sham' referenda

    Voting has now come to a close across the four occupied territories in Ukraine.

    These so-called referenda have been deemed a "sham" by Western governments, as Putin desperately attempts to consolidate his gains in Ukraine.

    Russian media has already released preliminary results for these votes, with the decision to join Russia gaining "96%" of the votes cast.

    These referenda have taken place in Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

  • Henry Moore

    Inside today's disaster gas leak, as fears of Russian sabotage hit Europe

    Putin is being accused of sabotage today, as gas leaks hit two of Europe's most crucial energy supplies.

    Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 both appear to have been rocked by blasts with seismologists detecting a mini earthquake close to the pipelines.

    This comes as Europe is locked in an energy row with Russia, with Putin's regime raising the price of gas across the continent.

    Click here to read more.

  • Henry Moore

    Ukrainian official pins blame on Russia for Nord Stream leak

    Today, a major gas leak occurred in the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

    Now, a Ukrainian official has claimed the leak was caused by a Russian "terrorist attack."

    Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, pinned the blame for the leak on Russia and called for more weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

  • Henry Moore

    British foreign secretary slams referenda in Ukraine

    James Cleverly has hit back at Russia, as the final referenda take place throughout captured Ukrainian Regions.

    Taking to Twitter, Mr Cleverly said: "As I made clear at the UN last week, we will not recognise the phoney results of these sham referenda and we have sanctioned those responsible for imposing them.

    "This is a desperate move by Putin to paint Ukraine as an aggressor rather than the truth: that the Ukrainians are defending their country from an illegal invasion of their sovereign territory."

  • Henry Moore

    Final 'sham' referenda take place

    Today marks the final day of the annexation votes taking place across captured Ukrainian territories.

    Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south are holding the final votes in these "sham" referenda at present.

    The results are believed to be a foregone conclusion, with fraudulent voting taking place in each case.

    Results will be announced on Friday.

  • Henry Moore

    Russian losses continue to mount as Putin calls on 300,000 reservists

    As Putin desperately calls on his reserve forces, leading to massive protests throughout Russia, his army has continued to lose troops.

    According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, Russian losses have reached 57,750.

    On top of this, Putin's forces have lost 4,881 tanks and 261 jets.

  • Henry Moore

    Russia and US in contact over nuclear fears

    Russia and the United States are reportedly in “sporadic” contact over nuclear weapons, a Kremlin spokesman said.

    Dmitry Peskov said the two nations have a means of discussing “emergency” situations.

    “There are channels for dialogue at the proper level, but they are of a very sporadic nature. At least they allow for the exchange of some emergency messages about each other’s positions,” Mr Peskov said.

  • Henry Moore

    Putin to address Russian parliament on Friday

    According to the British Ministry of Defence, Putin will address the Russian parliament this Friday, where he will likely announce the formal accession of the captured Ukrainian territories.

    The MoD statement reads: "President Putin is scheduled to address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday 30 September.

    "There is a realistic possibility that Putin will use his address to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The referendums currently underway within these territories are scheduled to conclude on 27 September.

    "Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict.

    "This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield sets-backs and significant unease about the partial mobilisation announced last week."

  • Henry Moore

    Russians flock to Montenegro as they flee Putin's brutal mobilisation policy

    Russian men are fleeing to Montenegro, as they desperately try and avoid Putin's new partial mobilisation policy.

    Alexander, 30, told Reuters in Montenegro: “This is not our war.

    "We are attacking our neighbours, brothers, we are trying to occupy territories that are not ours. I definitely will not fight for that, let alone die for it.

    “I am afraid many more will leave unless they [Russian government]finally shut borders. I am afraid we will have no friends left in Russia,” he added.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Russia claims it won't seek extradition of Russians fleeing draft

    Moscow said Tuesday it will not request the extradition of Russians travelling abroad to avoid being called-up to fight in Ukraine, after thousands of military-aged men crossed into neighbouring countries.

    "The Russian ministry of defence has not sent any request to the authorities of Kazakhstan, Georgia, or any other country for the alleged forced return to Russian soil of Russian citizens, and it is not planning to do so," the ministry said in a statement.

    Neighbouring countries have seen Russians arriving en masse since the draft was announced last Wednesday, with hours-long queues at border crossings.

    On Tuesday, Central Asian nation Kazakhstan said around 98,000 Russians entered the country since Wednesday.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Russian reservists arrive in Ukraine

    According to the Ministry of Defence, Russian reservists forced to join Putin’s army have begun arriving in Ukraine.

    A statement released yesterday reads: “The initial tranches of men called up under Russia’s partial mobilisation have started arriving at military bases. Many tens of thousands of call-up papers have already been issued.

    “Russia will now face an administrative and logistical challenge to provide training for the troops.

    “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 front line with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    Putin claims he wants to 'save people' in Moscow-held territories

    President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia wanted to "save people" in four Moscow-controlled territories in Ukraine, on the last day of annexation votes denounced as a sham by Western leaders.

    If the regions vote to join Russia, Moscow will claim sovereignty over about 20 percent of Ukraine, including Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.

    "Saving people in all the territories where this referendum is taking place... is the focus of the attention of our entire society and of the whole country," Putin said during a televised meeting with officials.

    The annexation polls organised by Kremlin-installed authorities in four regions of Ukraine mostly controlled by Russian forces are due to close Tuesday.

    Observers say the recent counter-offensive, which saw important successes for the Ukrainian army, pushed Putin to rush ahead with the votes to cement Russia's authority in the occupied territories.

  • Joseph Gamp

    EU to sanction organisers of Russia votes in Ukraine

    The EU said Tuesday it will slap sanctions on organisers of "illegal" votes in four occupied regions of Ukraine that Russia is conducting as "referendums" with the aim of annexation.

    "There would be consequences for all people who participate in the illegal, illegitimate referendums," Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, told journalists as the voting took place for a fifth and final day.

    A high-ranking official in Borrell's foreign policy service, Luc Devigne, separately told EU lawmakers that "we will put in individuals that are obviously linked to the recent steps with these referendums" in the sanctions package.

    The EU's 27 member states are deliberating on fresh sanctions on Russia for holding the vote, widely dismissed by the West as a "sham".

    Any measures have to be unanimously agreed.

  • Joseph Gamp

    In pictures: Vladimir Putin chairs agriculture meeting

    In the image below, Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on agriculture via video link in Sochi.

    President Putin today said his country expected a record-high grain harvest in 2022.

    It comes as Moscow blames Western sanctions over Ukraine for preventing its exports, especially to poor countries. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    UN 'deeply disturbed' by thousands arrested during protests

    The UN voiced alarm on Tuesday at credible reports of nearly 2,400 arrests in less than a week of protests in Russia against the draft ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

    "We are deeply disturbed by the large number of people who have reportedly been arrested," United Nations rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

    Russian authorities have cracked down on criticism of the war in Ukraine, arresting thousands of protesters since the beginning of the conflict in February.

    But the arrests have sky-rocketed since Putin announced last Wednesday a partial military mobilisation to bolster troops in Ukraine.

    Shamdasani pointed to "credible reports (that) some 2,377 demonstrators had been arrested... in various locations across the country".

    "It is unclear how many people remain in detention," she said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Kremlin 'extremely concerned' about Nord Stream leaks

    The Kremlin said Tuesday it was "extremely concerned" about reported leaks on Russia's Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe and its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2.

    "This is a completely unprecedented situation that requires urgent investigation. We are extremely concerned about this news," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

    Asked by reporters whether it could be an act of sabotage, Peskov said: "it is impossible to exclude any options".

    "Obviously there is some kind of damage to the pipe, as for what caused it -- before there are results of the investigations, no option can be ruled out," he added.

    Scandinavian authorities said on Tuesday that two leaks had been identified on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the Baltic Sea -- one in the Danish economic zone and the other in Sweden's -- hours after a drop in pressure was reported on Nord Stream 2.

    Built in parallel to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Nord Stream 2 was intended to double the capacity for Russian gas imports to Germany.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Putin grants Edward Snowden citizenship

    American whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted citizenship by Russia.

    Snowden fled the US after leaking files that exposed vast surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

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