The sham referenda in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine have ended. Pro-Russian authorities report a clear decision for Russia. The UN continues to recognize Ukraine’s territorial integrity. You can find all the latest news about the war in Ukraine here in the ticker.

Wednesday, September 28, 7:15 a.m .: In four Moscow-occupied regions in Ukraine, the pro-Russian authorities reported victories in the so-called referendums for annexation by Russia on Tuesday. In the southern Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhia and Cherson, as well as in the eastern Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, there was widespread support for an annexation, according to the authorities. The United Nations expressed support for Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” within its “recognized borders.”

The “referendums” in the four eastern Ukrainian regions, which Kyiv and its western allies criticized as sham votes, began on Friday.

After counting all the votes, the pro-Russian electoral authority in Zaporizhia declared that, according to the preliminary result, 93.11 percent voted for an annexation. In the Kherson region, the occupation authorities reported approval of 87.05 percent.

In the Luhansk region controlled by pro-Russian separatists, 98.42 percent voted in favor of annexation by Russia, Russian news agencies reported, citing local authorities.

It is “clear” that Luhansk is now returning to the bosom of Russia, declared the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, in the online service Telegram.

According to the local electoral authority, 99.23 percent of voters in the eastern Ukrainian separatist region of Donetsk voted for a Russian annexation. “We have all wished for this for a long time,” said separatist leader Denis Pushilin, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.

UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting that the United Nations remained fully supportive of “the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

4:48 p.m.: The Kazakh Interior Ministry will not extradite Russians fleeing mobilization. The prerequisite is that those affected are not on an international wanted list. This was announced by Interior Minister Marat Achmetzhanov at a briefing.

“If they are wanted by the military, that is not a legal basis for their extradition,” he said. However, criminals who are wanted internationally are to be extradited.

11:20 a.m .: In the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, Ukrainian troops have made further gains on the eastern bank of the Oskil River. The Pisky-Radkivski settlement is again under Ukrainian control, the administration of the municipality of Borova said on Tuesday night to the Telegram news service. In addition, photos of destroyed Russian technology were shown. Before the Russian invasion on February 24, the settlement had about 2000 inhabitants.

The Ukrainian general staff had previously written about Russian shelling against Kupyansk-Vuslovyj about 40 kilometers to the north, indirectly confirming reports that the city had been recaptured. Kupyansk-Vuzlovyj is an important railway junction on the left bank of the Oskil.

After being expelled from most of the Kharkiv region in early September, Russian troops retreated behind the line of the Oskil and Siverskyi Donets rivers. However, they could not hold this line. Ukrainian units are also said to have had successes in the Donetsk region bordering to the south and have approached the Luhansk region to within a few kilometers.

This week, following the holding of sham referendums in the Russian-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, Russia is expected to annex the regions. After seven months of the Russian invasion, Moscow controls the Luhansk region almost completely, but only half of the Donetsk region. The Kremlin’s plan is already being rejected internationally and is seen as a violation of international law. The West is threatening Russia with new sanctions.

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 “” 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 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.

You can read more reports on the Ukraine conflict on the following pages.