The mock referendums in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine enter their last day today. According to military experts, Putin emptied the pool of reservists last year. The regional head of a republic has now also admitted “recruitment errors”. You can find all the latest news about the war in Ukraine here in the ticker.
9.33 a.m .: According to British secret services, the Russian leadership wants to justify the war of aggression in front of its own population with the expected annexation of Ukrainian areas. Any announcement of annexation of the territories will serve to justify Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and aim to cement patriotic support for the conflict, the UK Defense Ministry said in a briefing on Tuesday.
It is expected that Russian President Vladimir Putin will formally announce the annexation of the areas in eastern and southern Ukraine in a speech to the Russian parliament on Friday. The mock referendums, which were supposed to serve to legitimize the move, were to end there on Tuesday.
However, the British intelligence services assume that the Russians will not support Putin’s plans as he hopes. The recent partial mobilization of Russian reservists and the increasing knowledge about the setbacks in Ukraine are likely to cloud approval significantly, it said.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022, 9:30 a.m.: The last day of mock referendums began on Tuesday in the Moscow-occupied areas of Ukraine. The people in the parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Cherson and Zaporizhia regions occupied by Russian troops have until 3:00 p.m. CEST (4:00 p.m. local time) to cast their votes on joining the Russian Federation. These sham referenda are criticized as breaching international law. They are not recognized worldwide because they are held in violation of Ukrainian and international laws and without minimum democratic standards.
In the Luhansk region, the authorities reported renewed fire from multiple rocket launchers on the town of Alchevsk. Nevertheless, all polling stations are open, it said. For days now, Russian state television has been showing people in the occupied territories who are happy that they will soon be part of Russia. In contrast, independent media criticize that people would vote under pressure and at gunpoint.
The occupation authorities are expected to announce the outcome of the mock referendums on Tuesday evening. Approval for joining the Russian Federation is expected to be between 80 and 90 percent. After that, the separatist leadership wants to officially apply to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin for admission to Russian territory. The Kremlin had indicated that this could happen quickly. Putin could address the nation in a speech this Friday. The Kremlin has not yet confirmed the date.
Before the start of the sham referendum, President Putin had emphasized that the areas would then be completely under the protection of the nuclear power Russia. He warned Ukraine that if the shelling of the areas continued, Moscow would consider it an attack on Russian territory and would defend itself with all available means.
9:03 p.m .: A large fire broke out on Saturday in a steel factory, one of whose main shareholders is the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. A video shows flames presumably blazing in a production hall and clouds of black smoke rising. According to the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, there were no casualties, destruction or damage to equipment.
Meanwhile, several and widely differing explanations are circulating about the cause of the fire.
The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade announced that a power surge triggered the fire at the Evraz ZSMK steel factory in Novokuznetsk. On the other hand, the press department of the Evraz steel factory claimed in an interview with “ngs42.ru” that during the fire an attempt was made to let gas escape through the open door. The videos circulating on social media would prove a planned technological procedure. The factory could have resumed operations after 1.5 hours.
Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Environment, Technology and Nuclear Supervision, confirmed to ngs42.ru that there was an explosion at the steel factory. Surrounding houses and equipment were destroyed.
Evraz employs around 70,000 people. The factory has been sanctioned by some western sanctions since the start of the Ukraine war. It is suspected of supplying steel to the Russian military for the construction of tanks.
5:05 p.m .: According to the “Institute for the Study of War”, the partial mobilization ordered by Russian President Putin on September 21 will provide additional forces for the war – but in an inefficient manner and with a high political and social price. Essentially, the conscripted men will add little to Russia’s combat capability.
In addition, the selection of reservists is very limited. As “ISW” reports, Putin made at least four mobilization attempts last year. That would have depleted the supply of available and combat-ready reservists before the partial mobilization.
8:46 a.m.: A few days after the announcement of a partial mobilization in Russia, a man opened fire in a conscription center in Siberia, according to the local governor, injuring a military member working there. The Guardian reports, citing a video showing the incident. Accordingly, the commander spoke to the new recruits and explained the procedure. A man then stepped out of line, ran up to the recruiter, said “nobody goes anywhere here” and shot him several times.
The incident happened in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk region. “In Ust-Ilimsk, a young man shot at the military registration and enlistment office,” Igor Kobzev, the governor of the sparsely populated Irkutsk region, told Telegram. The wounded military member was critically injured.
“The shooter was arrested immediately and will definitely be punished,” Kobsev continued. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, the suspect is a 25-year-old resident of the city of Ust-Ilimsk.
“I am ashamed that this is happening at a time when we should rather be united. We must not fight against each other, but against real threats,” Kobsev continued. He gave instructions to strengthen security measures.
04:42: According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, two more mass graves have been found in the recaptured city of Izyum in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv. “Today I received more information. They found two more mass graves, large graves with hundreds of people,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with US broadcaster CBS. He did not initially give any further details. After the recapture of Isjums, more than 440 graves marked with crosses were discovered in a forest near a cemetery.
Monday, September 26, 1:18 am: The mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine, Ivan Fedorov, fears that Ukrainians in these regions will also be recruited for Russian military service. “They will force the men to fight in their armed forces,” Fedorov told Funke Mediengruppe newspapers (Monday editions).
Men between the ages of 18 and 63 are not allowed to leave his city of Melitopol, Fedorov said. This is a big problem. “We advised our men to leave Melitopol for Crimea and from there travel to Georgia or the European Union. But now the city and villages in the region are locked down,” the mayor said. Russia does not allow travel between towns and villages.
“They will draft our men and use them as cannon fodder. They will mobilize all men, no matter what age,” the mayor said. He emphasized that similar actions by the Russian occupying forces could already be observed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The men there had “no chance to say no,” he said.
Apparently as a reaction to the Ukrainian land gains, so-called referendums on the annexation by Russia began in four occupied areas of Ukraine on Friday. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization.
7:58 p.m .: According to a report by the news portal “Meduza”, Russia wants to close its borders for men of mobile age in a few days. “Meduza” refers to two unspecified sources in the Kremlin. According to this, the borders are to be closed on Wednesday, September 28th, in order to prevent conscripts from fleeing.
It is said that they want to wait until after the “referendums” in the four occupied regions of Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Cherson.
Since the partial mobilization by President Vladimir Putin, thousands of Russians have left the country, and hundreds are trying their luck on the borders with Georgia and Finland. After the Russian partial mobilization for the war against Ukraine, the Finnish border guard continues to observe more traffic than usual on the border with Russia. At the most important Vaalimaa border crossing, cars on the Russian side were backed up for about 500 meters on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. (local time, 7 a.m. CEST), said the head of international affairs at the Finnish border guard, Matti Pitkäniitty.
On Saturday, a total of 8,572 Russians arrived across the land border in Finland, compared to 5,286 a week ago. 4,199 Russians left for Russia.
Kremlin chief Putin wants to draft in around 300,000 reservists to hold the areas still occupied in Ukraine after the Russian army was defeated. Putin therefore ordered partial mobilization on Wednesday – seven months after the invasion of Ukraine. This caused panic among many Russians.
11:30 a.m.: The Ukrainian General Staff reports heavy Russian losses. Accordingly, 400 pro-Russian soldiers were killed between Saturday (September 24) and Sunday (September 25).
In addition, 20 vehicles were destroyed and 10 drones destroyed. The Kramatorsk and Donetsk regions were particularly affected, according to the General Staff.
Sunday, 9.30 a.m.: The Russian occupation in Ukraine has apparently launched a massive attack on the administrative center in the Zaporizhia region, Ukrainska Pravda reports. It has “become an enemy target again,” says Oleksandr Starukh, head of the local military administration in the Zaporizhia district. According to the first reports, there were “about ten impacts”. Starukh added that information on victims is in the works. So far it is known that three civilians were injured in the attacks. The rockets also damaged the city’s infrastructure. In one part of the city, the power supply was interrupted at a substation.
2:32 p.m .: According to civil rights activists, several people were again arrested in Russia during anti-mobilization protests. Independent media showed photos and videos of demonstrators on Saturday afternoon, among others from the city of Khabarovsk in the far east of the country and from Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Tomsk and Chita in Siberia. According to this, people hold up posters with inscriptions such as “We are not meat”. Several recordings show them being led away by police officers.
Insane detail from another protest on Wednesday in Moscow: 200 people who were arrested at the protest were apparently given their draft papers directly and must therefore go to war immediately.
1:52 p.m .: The sham referendums initiated by Russia in the occupied parts of Ukraine are in full swing. Curious: Apparently those who have already died are also allowed to vote. Russian administrative authorities in Alchevsk are counting the “votes” of people who are in captivity or who have died, said Serhii Haidai, head of the region’s military administration. “There are certainly many voters. A resident of Alchevsk who is at the front, in captivity or already dead will also somehow vote. Perhaps her vote will be taken into account telepathically,” the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda quoted the Russian head of administration as saying.
According to the Ukrainian newspaper, the administration’s employees are trying to increase voter turnout by going directly to the residents, accompanied by armed Russian soldiers, so that they can vote where they live. The employees should also stop passers-by on the street. If someone doesn’t have a passport with them, they should reply: “You don’t need one, we know who you are anyway.”
1:38 p.m .: The Russian Ministry of Defense is apparently starting to return the first mobilized soldiers. This was announced by the head of the Russian republic of Sakha/Yakutia on Saturday. According to this, “recruitment errors” happened.
Among other things, unemployed or fathers with many children were recruited, reports the ARD. This violates the mobilization rules announced by Putin.
Russian citizens are currently fleeing military service across the country, the borders are partially closed and all flights from Moscow were temporarily fully booked on Wednesday.
10.02 a.m .: According to Great Britain, Russia is trying to stop the Ukrainian offensive in the east of the country with attacks on dams. On September 21 and 22, Russian troops fired on the Pechenihy dam on the Siwerskyi Donets river east of the city of Kharkiv with short-range missiles or similar weapons, the Ministry of Defense in London said on Saturday, citing intelligence information. On September 15, there was a similar attack on the Karachunivka Dam, which dams the Inhulets River near the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih.
Ukrainian forces were advancing along these two rivers, London said. “As Russian commanders become increasingly concerned about their operational setbacks, they are likely trying to hit the floodgates of levees to flood Ukrainian military border crossings,” the ministry said. “Due to the distance between the damaged levees and the combat zones, the attacks are unlikely to have caused significant disruption to Ukrainian operations.”
Saturday, September 24, 9:21 a.m.: The Ukrainian government has withdrawn accreditation from the Iranian ambassador in Kyiv for supplying combat drones to Russia. As a result, he can no longer meet his obligations in the host country and, following diplomatic practice, will probably have to return to Tehran. “In addition, the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv will be significantly reduced,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. Just hours earlier, a person had died in a drone attack in the port city of Odessa.
At the end of August, US intelligence reported that Russia had bought Iranian drones to use in its war of aggression against Ukraine. Neither Moscow nor Tehran have officially confirmed the purchase. In the past few weeks, however, several Iranian-made drones have been shot down by the Ukrainians over the battlefields.
2:15 p.m .: Ukrainians in occupied areas are to be put under pressure to take part in the “referendums”. This is reported by the governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Hajdaj. According to Deutschlandfunk, officials are said to have threatened that anyone who did not vote would lose their job. In Starobilsk, people were forbidden to leave the city until the end of the referendum next Tuesday. Armed groups would even search homes. The information has not yet been independently verified.
You can read more reports on the Ukraine conflict on the following pages.