The day of the war at a glance
Moscow no longer lets Russians leave the country – referendum causes mass exodus from Cherson
09/28/2022, 9:26 p.m
As the four Ukrainian separatist leaders in Moscow plead for the annexation of the occupied territories, Ukrainians are leaving towns and villages under Russian rule in droves. Fear of military service is again driving thousands to flee in Russia. Moscow stops issuing passports and announces ambitious goals for conquest in eastern Ukraine. But that’s exactly where the next debacle threatens the Russian army. The 217th day of the war at a glance.
After referendums: eyewitnesses speak of empty villages
In view of Russian preparations for the annexation of parts of Ukraine, according to eyewitnesses, a flight from the affected areas begins. In particular, refugees in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhia reported that there was a fear that the conscription of men into the Russian army would immediately begin there. “There are places that are completely deserted,” said a man who says he and his family got out of Cherson through the last Russian checkpoint. “Whole villages break up.”
Another father from Cherson spoke of a queue of cars, the end of which could no longer be seen. Because of the referendum, 70 percent of people are moving away, he said. A 48-year-old saleswoman reported that local schools were instructed to hold classes in Russian starting next month. She didn’t want her 13-year-old son to return to his school. “You can imagine how I feel now,” she said. “As soon as we passed the checkpoint, my first photo was one of the Ukrainian flag. I’m happy.” It was not possible to confirm the information from the occupied territories.
Separatist leaders personally appeal to Putin for annexation
In four regions of Ukraine – in addition to Cherson and Zaporizhia also Luhansk and Donetsk – the authorities appointed by Russia had held referendums on union with the Russian Federation. According to the final results published on Wednesday night, between 87 and a good 99 percent voted for a connection. Later that day, the administrators of the four regions appointed by Russia said they had personally addressed applications for admission to President Vladimir Putin. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said steps would soon be taken to meet the four regions’ aspirations.
On Red Square in Moscow, huge video screens read: “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson – Russia!” The areas together roughly correspond to the area of Portugal and would make up 15 percent of Ukraine’s national territory.
Kyiv: referendums “null and void”
A Foreign Ministry statement in Kyiv said the referenda were null and void. You will continue to fight for a liberation of the territory. “Forcing people in these areas at gunpoint to fill out some papers is another Russian crime in the aggression against Ukraine.”
The European Union and the USA brought up new sanctions against Russia. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We do not accept any sham votes or any annexations in Ukraine and are determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation.”
Secret service expects Putin’s speech on Friday
According to earlier information from the British secret service, Putin is likely to announce the inclusion of the areas in a speech to parliament on Friday. Then his government could present the Ukrainian counter-offensive as an attack on Russia. Putin said last week that he was ready to defend his country’s “territorial integrity” with nuclear weapons.
Kremlin: “We want all of Donetsk”
However, Russia does not control all of the claimed territories. Around 40 percent of Donetsk is under Ukrainian control, and the province is fiercely contested. Russian Presidential Office spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the special operation must continue until Donetsk is completely taken.
Russian troops threatened encirclement in Lyman
In the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Russian troops are apparently threatened with encirclement by the Ukrainian army. Russian war reporters reported in the afternoon on successful Ukrainian advances north-east and east of the small town of Lyman. Should the settlement of Torske be recaptured, the Russians are threatened with cutting off the communication routes from Lyman to Kreminna and Swatowe in the Luhansk region. The streets are already under fire from Ukrainian artillery.
Moscow stops issuing passports
In view of the ongoing mass exodus of young Russians abroad, the government in Moscow stopped issuing passports to Russians who are conscripted for military service. The US Embassy in Moscow and the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin have asked their own citizens with double passports to leave the country immediately, as long as there are still transport options.
North Ossetia closes border by decree
The Russian republic of North Ossetia, which borders Georgia in the Caucasus, imposed entry restrictions. By decree he made it difficult for cars to drive through from other Russian regions in the direction of Georgia, wrote the head of the republic Sergei Menjajlo on Telegram. “In the last two days alone, more than 20,000 people have traveled across our border section to Georgia!” Menjajlo said.
Nord Stream leaks: Russia suspects Biden
The West continues to blame the Kremlin for three leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines. According to a newspaper report, Russia may have secretly dropped explosive charges on various parts of the pipelines from an underwater drone.
The Russian government indicated that the US was behind the alleged blasts. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said US President Joe Biden may have ordered a sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea. “The US President must answer the question of whether the US has implemented its threat,” wrote Maria Zakharova on the Telegram online service. “Europe must know the truth.” Washington said it was “ridiculous.”
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