Wed, 19 June 2024

Day 216: Sketch of an unfolding fiasco

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Sham referendum 

  • Elections officials in Moscow said Tuesday that eligible voters in Russia had overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favour of the Kremlin annexing four Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine.
  • At least 96% of voters in Russia cast their ballots in favor of annexation after at least 15% of ballots were counted, news agencies carrying data from election officials said.
  • Ukraine and its allies have denounced the referendums as a “sham” and an attempt at a land grab.
  • Moscow has explained that voting was also being held in Russia because thousands of residents of the areas that are controlled by Russian forces fled after President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
  • “It’s already clear that the vast majority of people supported the issue of secession from Ukraine and joining Russia,” Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-appointed head of the Russian-held Kherson region said on social media.
  • Russia is sending newly mobilized recruits to the front after just days of training or none at all, rights activists said nearly a week into the country’s “partial” military mobilization for the war in Ukraine.
  • READ MORE: Russian Officials Say Ukraine Regions Voting For Annexation: Agencies
  • “[New recruits] do not participate in exercises, are not examined by the medical commission and do not undergo any training,” the Perviy Otdel (First Department) rights group said in a post on Telegram on Tuesday.
  • The group cited a video published by an unnamed draftee who was called up to fight. “Hello all, the first tank regiment is here. We were officially told that there would be no training before we are sent to the war zone. The regiment’s commanders confirmed this. On Sept. 29, we will be sent to Kherson,” the man in the video says. Perviy Otdel did not indicate how widespread such cases are.
  • READ MORE:  Russia Sends Mobilised Men to Ukraine Front After Days of Training – Activists

    7 HOURS AGO – Pipeline leak a sabotage
  • Ukraine said Tuesday that reported leaks on Russia’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Europe and its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2 were likely caused by a “terrorist attack” by Moscow.
  • “The large-scale ‘gas leak’ from Nord Stream 1 is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU,” Kyiv’s presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak said on Twitter.9 HOURS AGO – Exodus of able bodies to neighbouring borders
  • Moscow said Tuesday it will not request the extradition of Russians traveling abroad to avoid being called-up to fight in Ukraine, after thousands of military-aged men crossed into neighbouring countries. “The Russian Defence Ministry 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.10 HOURS AGO
  • 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. “Saving people in the territories where this referendum is taking place… is the focus of the attention of our entire society and of the entire country,” Putin said during a televised meeting with officials.
  • The EU said Tuesday it will slap sanctions on organizers 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.11 HOURS AGO
  • The Kremlin warned Tuesday that votes held in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine to join Russia would have security implications, with officials in Moscow recently threatening the use of nuclear weapons. “The legal situation will radically change from the point of view of international law and that will also have consequences for security in these territories,” the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.12 HOURS AGO
  • French foreign minister Catherine Colonna was in Kyiv Tuesday on an unannounced visit to Ukraine in a show of support for the country invaded by Russia. “Good morning Ukraine, it’s good to be back,” she wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of herself walking in Kyiv with the French ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins.
  • During her visit, Colonna is expected to meet with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and with Ukraine’s top prosecutor Andriy Kostin.
  • She is also scheduled to hold talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and to visit to a military airport in the city of Gostomel, north of Kyiv.13 HOURS AGO
  • Four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions could join annexed Crimea in the form of a single Russian district following referendums denounced as a sham by Kyiv’s Western allies, the Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday.
  • The Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south are wrapping up five days of voting to become parts of Russia. Its results, which the United States and European governments have refused to recognize in advance, could be announced Tuesday evening.
  • The four regions plus Crimea would be formed into Russia’s ninth federal district, Vedomosti reported, citing an unnamed Russian senator and a source close to the Crimean administration.
  • Russian troops have only partly been able to occupy the four territories seven months after invading Ukraine.
  • The number of Russians arriving in neighbouring Georgia every day has nearly doubled since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine, officials in Tbilisi said Tuesday.
  • “Four to five days ago 5,000-6,000 (Russians) were arriving in Georgia daily. The number has grown to some 10,000 per day,” Georgia’s interior Minister, Vakhtang Gomelauri, told journalists.
  • Long queues to leave the country have formed at Russia’s border with the Caucasus nation of Georgia, with officials admitting an “extremely tense” situation at the border checkpoint, the regional interior ministry said. 
  • The Russian ministry added that a mobile mobilisation office will be set up at the border checkpoint in the “near future.”
  • Kazakhstan will ensure the care and safety of Russians fleeing a “hopeless situation,” the president of the Central Asian country said on Tuesday, as Russian men fled the Ukraine military call-up. “Recently we’ve had many people from Russia coming here,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was quoted as saying by his press service. Most of them are forced to leave because of the hopeless situation. We must take care of them and ensure their safety,” he added. “This is a political and humanitarian issue,” he said.
  • The Kazakh leader also condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and called for respect of territorial integrity, as Russia held annexation referendums in four Ukrainian regions.
  • READ MORE: Kazakhstan to Ensure Safety of Russians Fleeing Draft – President
    14 HOURS AGO
  • Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that he didn’t believe NATO would intervene in Ukraine in the event that Russia used nuclear weapons there.
  • “Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use the most formidable weapon against the Ukrainian regime, which has committed a large-scale act of aggression, which is dangerous for the very existence of our state. I believe that NATO will not directly intervene in the conflict even in this situation,” Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
  • “After all, the security of Washington, London and Brussels is much more important for the North Atlantic Alliance than the fate of the perishing Ukraine, which no one needs, even if it is abundantly supplied with various weapons,” he continued.

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