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Artillery strikes hit southern Ukraine as Russia comes under UN sights on escalation According to Reuters

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© Reuters. Members of the Ukrainian army ride on top of an armored combat vehicle, during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 24, 2022. REUTERS / Oleksandr Ratushniak

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(Reuters) – Shelling hit southern Ukraine late on Saturday, as Russia sought to defend its seven-month war even as it escalated the conflict with expectations. annexed the areas to the east and south that their forces had occupied.

Ukraine and the West argue that the referendums on Russia’s participation in the territories captured by Russia are a sham designed to justify their annexation and increase their actions. enmity with newly enlisted soldiers after recent losses on the battlefield.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the world media on Saturday, protesting that Russia’s attack on its neighbor is limited to the United States and the countries subject to their influence.

Nearly three-quarters of the countries on the council voted to reprimand Russia and demand that it withdraw its troops shortly after the February 24 invasion, which Russia called a special military operation.

Russia’s military campaign has killed tens of thousands of people, turned several Ukrainian cities into wasteland and sparked Russia’s biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed rocket attacks and shelling in various areas in the south and east.

Ukraine’s military said early Sunday that Russian forces had carried out dozens of missile strikes and air strikes on military and civilian targets, including 35 “settlements”, in 24 hours. via.

Russia denies targeting civilians. State news agency RIA cited an unidentified source earlier as saying Ukrainian forces had shelled a granary and fertilizer depot.

Reuters was unable to verify the claims of either side.

Votes on becoming part of Russia have been hastily held after Ukraine recaptured large swathes of the northeast in a counteroffensive this month.

Ukrainian officials say residents are barred from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote is over, armed groups will enter homes and staff are threatened with sacks if they do not participate.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the vote would be “clearly condemned” by the world, with Russia starting to mobilize troops this week, including in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia. .

Russia believes that referendums provide an opportunity for people in those regions to express their views.

‘UNACCEPTABLE’

Lavrov, in a press conference after his speech to the council in New York, said the voting zones would be “fully protected” by Moscow if they were annexed by Russia.

When asked if Russia has grounds to use nuclear weapons to defend annexed regions of Ukraine, Lavrov said Russian territory, including the territory “is enshrined in the constitution of Ukraine,” Lavrov said. Future Russia, “under full state protection”.

“All the laws, doctrines, concepts and strategies of the Russian Federation are applicable to its entire territory,” he said, referring specifically to the Russian doctrine of the use of use nuclear weapons.

The Group of Seven Industrialized Economies said they would not recognize the results of the votes.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Russia’s claims of possible use of nuclear weapons were “completely unacceptable” and Kyiv would not give in.

“We call on all nuclear powers to speak up and make it clear to Russia that such rhetoric puts the world at risk and will not be tolerated,” Kuleba said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Ukraine had requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the referendums, accusing Russia of violating the UN Charter by trying to change the referendum. Ukraine’s border change.

On Wednesday, Putin ordered the first deployment of troops since World War Two, sending a number of Russian men quickly to the border, with traffic at the border junctions with Finland and Georgia. soaring and airfares from Moscow soar.

More than 2,000 people have been detained across Russia for protesting the draft, including 798 in 33 towns on Saturday, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.

Frustration has even spread to the pro-Kremlin media, with an editor of the state-run news channel RT complaining that issues such as phone calls were sent to the wrong people. make people angry.”

Asked on Saturday why so many Russians are leaving the country, Lavrov pointed to freedom of movement.

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