The Ukrainian army has struck an important blow: in the Mykolaiv region, soldiers shot down a Russian kamikaze drone.

In Russia, the day revolved around the planned referendums in four Ukrainian regions.

what happened today

The Russian army recently successfully attacked Ukrainian positions several times with Iranian Kamikaze drones of the type Shahed-136. Now the Ukrainians have managed to shoot down one such drone. This happened in the Mykolaiv region, according to those in charge of the Ukrainian Air Force. The information cannot be independently verified.

You can read everything you need to know about Kamikaze drones here: “Strong counterweight” – Kamikaze drones suddenly give Russians a lot more clout

In several occupied areas in Ukraine, the authorities appointed by Moscow want to hold referendums on an annexation by Russia at short notice. The votes, which are apparently a reaction to Ukrainian gains in territory, are scheduled to begin on Friday in the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass and in the southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia. Ukraine declared that this “threat” could only be averted by force. This threatens a severe escalation of the war in Ukraine.

First on Tuesday, the separatist representative Denis Miroshnichenko from the Luhansk region in Donbass announced a referendum for September 23-27. A short time later, the neighboring region of Donetsk also scheduled a referendum for the same period.

“Donbass is coming home!” cried the leader of the Donetsk separatists, Denis Pushilin, in a speech. In the Telegram online service, he called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to quickly implement the union with Russia after the referendum. “The people of Donbass, who have been suffering for a long time, deserve to be part of this great country, which they have always considered their homeland,” Puschilin said.

For the Cherson region in the south of the country, the head of the administration appointed by Moscow, Vladimir Saldo, announced a referendum on Telegram – also from September 23 to 27. As a fourth region, the pro-Russian authorities in the Zaporizhia region, which is partially occupied by Russian troops and in which Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is located, announced a referendum starting on Friday.

The referendums on annexation by Russia announced by the pro-Russian authorities in four Ukrainian regions have met with international criticism. It is “very clear that these sham referendums cannot be accepted,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Tuesday on the fringes of the UN general debate in New York. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke of a “further escalation” of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The White House said the US would “never” recognize Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s territories.

The planned votes are “not covered by international law and by the understandings that the international community has found,” said Scholz. It was an “attempt at imperialist aggression” that was to be “disguised” by the votes. “Russia must withdraw its troops,” stressed the Chancellor. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg demanded that the international community condemn this “blatant violation of international law”.

Against the background of a feared preparation for the imposition of martial law in the country, a general mobilization in Russia is currently not an issue, according to information from the parliament. “There will be no general mobilization,” said the head of the Defense Committee in the State Duma, Andrei Kartapalov, in an interview with “Parlamentskaya Gazeta” on Tuesday. According to him, the most recent tightening of the law was intended more to secure Russia’s ability to defend itself in the long term.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian parliament rushed through legislative changes that indicated a possible preparation for the imposition of martial law in the country. Among other things, criminal law was tightened in the second and last reading. Prison sentences for soldiers who voluntarily become prisoners of war and for looting have been increased. The law also spoke of a possible “mobilization” and “state of war”.

In addition, the Kremlin has not yet commented on the planned accession referendums in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. For the time being, there was no expected speech by President Vladimir Putin in the evening.

After sharp criticism, three AfD members of parliament break off their trip to Russia and Donbass in Ukraine. “Mr (Christian) Blex said he was not in the Donbass and will end the trip,” said a spokeswoman for the AfD parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia of the German Press Agency on Tuesday evening. According to a party spokesman in Berlin, Blex wrote to the federal executive via email that all three MPs had decided “not to travel further to the Donbass”. “The trip to the Donbass was canceled. Nobody goes there,” the spokesman said. Blex is traveling with two members of the state parliament from Saxony-Anhalt, Hans-Thomas Tillschneider and Daniel Wald. ZDF had previously reported online about the cancellation of the trip.

The trip by the three AfD members of the state parliament has caused a great deal of misunderstanding since Monday. Representatives of other parties accused the AfD of siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There was also a shake of the head within the AfD. Above all, the planned visit to the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine was criticized.

According to their own statements, the AfD party leadership was not privy to the trip and distanced itself from it. “We do not support this trip,” said co-party and faction leader Tino Chrupalla on Tuesday in Berlin. Co-party leader Alice Weidel spoke of a “private trip” that had not been agreed with the parliamentary group and party. “The travel activity does not represent the position of the AfD either.” It will be worked on internally.

President Putin also called for a significant increase in arms production. “Armaments industry organizations must provide the armed forces with the necessary weapons, technology and combatants in the shortest possible time,” he demanded at a meeting with heads of Russian arms companies. At the same time, it is necessary to completely dispense with imports in weapons production.

In view of the recent Ukrainian advance, the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk had called on Moscow to become much more involved. Russia justified its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 with the “liberation” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, among other things. First, the Russian military was able to conquer large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Most recently, however, the Kremlin had to accept a serious defeat, the Russian troops withdrew almost completely from the Kharkiv region after Ukrainian attacks. State propaganda then warned of a possible devastating defeat in the war. On the other hand, the Russian military leadership has repeatedly emphasized that everything is going according to plan and that all goals have been achieved.

The Russian parliament, meanwhile, made urgent legislative changes that could indicate possible preparations for the imposition of martial law in the country. The Duma determined on Tuesday that times of “mobilization” and “state of war” are particularly prone to crime. Among other things, the criminal law was tightened in the second and last reading, according to which the prison sentences for voluntarily becoming prisoners of war and for looting are significantly increased.

Independent observers close to the Kremlin saw this as a possible preparation by the Kremlin for the declaration of a state of war and a mobilization. In view of the war in Ukraine, Putin had said that Moscow hadn’t even really started there. The State Duma also passed a law that would allow foreigners who enlist in the military to become Russian citizens more quickly.

After the defeat in the Kharkiv region, the Kremlin recently declared that there was no mobilization “at the moment”. However, speculation has been going on for months that Putin could use this hitherto unprecedented means to solve personnel problems at the front. It was only on Friday that he emphasized again that fighting is currently only taking place on a contractual basis – i.e. with volunteers.

Prominent Russian politicians, but also the state media, had called for significantly more personnel to be mobilized for a faster advance. In the separatist regions, too, the commanders had called for more action by the Russian leadership in view of the Ukrainian advance and the risk of new defeats from heavy weapons supplied by NATO countries.

The latest Ukrainian counter-offensive has further reduced the already low morale of Russian units, which were considered elite troops before the war began on February 24. The independent Belarusian media outlet Vot Tak published images of intercepted documents left behind by Russian soldiers of Unit 31135 of the 1st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 2nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division escaping from Izyum. In the signed documents, dated August 30, the authors of the letters ask the unit commanders to dismiss them due to persistent “physical and moral exhaustion.” According to Ukrainian intelligence, 90 percent of the regiment had written such reports as early as May.

The division in question is one of the three divisions of the 1st Guards Tank Army, which before the war in Ukraine was considered Russia’s best mechanized force and would play a key role for Moscow in a large-scale war between Russia and NATO.

Well-known Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva has come under pressure in her homeland after criticizing Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. She had lamented that Russian soldiers were dying for “illusory goals” while at the same time Russia was being internationally ostracized by the war.

“These poets, harlequins and jugglers just need a chance to sing and dance, smirk and vulgarly smart-shit,” wrote the head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Commission, Valery Fadeyev. The Russian rap singer Timati, who is loyal to the Kremlin and known in Germany for the song “Welcome to St. Tropez”, also complained about the singer’s alleged lack of patriotism. But there was also praise for Pugacheva’s statements: Julia Navalnaya, wife of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, shared the critical words on Instagram. Other show greats also attested to the singer’s admirable courage and honesty. The German rock star Udo Lindenberg expressed solidarity with his “long-time friend and colleague”.

Ukraine says it has sunk a Russian barge in Kherson Oblast. The barge should bring troops and equipment across a river at Nowa Kachowka. “Attempts to build a pontoon bridge did not withstand the shelling of the Ukrainian armed forces and were aborted,” the Ukrainian military wrote on Facebook, adding cynically: “The barge (…) became an addition to the occupier’s submarine fleet. “

Ukraine is taking its complaint about the Russian war of aggression to the highest stage of world public opinion, in front of the United Nations General Assembly. The Ukrainian head of state is scheduled to speak on Wednesday – exceptionally via video link instead of at the lectern of the General Assembly. Russia had tried to only allow Zelenskyj to speak in the foreseeable, unlikely event that he would have come to New York in person. The member states rejected this condition with a majority, so that the Ukrainian head of state is now involved.

According to information from the US Department of Defense, the Russian military is having a hard time recruiting forces for its war against Ukraine. Ukrainian troops have inflicted significant casualties among Russian soldiers, and “we see the Kremlin making increasing efforts to find new recruits to fill its thin ranks. But the Russians are doing so badly that many Russians are reluctant to go to war,” said a senior official, referring to video circulating on social media in which a representative of the private Russian military company Wagner is trying to sell Russians Convince prison inmates to join the struggle in Ukraine.

“We believe this is part of Wagner’s campaign to recruit over 1,500 convicted felons. Our intelligence suggests that Wagner suffered heavy casualties in Ukraine, particularly – and unsurprisingly – among young and inexperienced fighters.”

After consulting with his military officials, Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian forces had a firm grip on the situation in the liberated areas near Kharkiv in the east. He thanked individual army brigades, but also the SBU secret service, whose leadership he replaced in July. In the meantime, the SBU is making sure “that the occupiers can’t stay anywhere on Ukrainian soil”.

At the same time, the head of state called for quick action: speed is important in stabilizing the liberated regions, in normalizing life there and in advancing the troops. Support from abroad must also keep up with this pace, he demanded. The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian troops shelled civilian objects in 24 locations on Monday. The cities of Kramatorsk, Avijivka, Zaporischschja and Mykolaiv were mentioned, among others. The leadership of the Russian-led separatists in Donetsk reported an attack by Ukrainian artillery that killed 13 people. The information could not be independently verified.

That will be important on Tuesday

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not flying to New York this year for the UN general debate, where his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy will address the general assembly via video link. Instead, Putin will welcome new foreign ambassadors to Moscow on Tuesday. He usually uses such appointments in the Kremlin to comment on the international situation.

The September 19 Ukraine update.

They drive up in an SUV, pay their fee with 100-euro bills and complain about fruit with bruises: Ukrainian refugees are causing displeasure at the food bank in Weimar. Volunteers are fed up with being bullied.

According to military expert Mick Ryan, the recapture of Ukraine can also be attributed to clever military deployment planning. Russia, on the other hand, is currently proving “historically” poor operational skills. Against this background, the Ukrainian armed forces seem to sense a possible collapse of the Russian positions in the east.

For more than six months, the village of Shevchenkove in eastern Ukraine was occupied by Russia. It was released last week. With the Russian soldiers, the propaganda newspapers and the portraits of Putin have also disappeared from the village of 7,000 inhabitants. Now people are returning to normal life.