© Reuters. Ukrainian soldiers drive near Bakhmut, as Russia’s offensive in Ukraine continues, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, September 7, 2022. REUTERS / Ammar Awad
(Reuters) – Russia has conducted referendums aimed at annexing Ukraine’s four occupied regions, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations, who have rejected the votes as a a pretense and commitment not to recognize their results.
* Ukrainian officials say people are banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote is over, armed groups will come to their homes to force people to vote, and officials members are threatened with sacks if they do not participate.
* Reuters could not immediately verify reports of enforcement.
* Voting in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia was hastily held after Ukraine recaptured large swaths of the northeast in a counter-offensive.
* Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations condemned the votes as an illegal precondition for illegal annexation. There were no independent observers, and most of the pre-war population had fled.
* The United States is ready to impose additional economic costs on Russia and its allies if Moscow moves to annex parts of Ukraine, the White House said.
* NATO will step up its help to Kyiv in response to “fake” referendums, the alliance’s secretary-general said.
* Russia believes that referendums provide an opportunity for people in the region to express their views.
* A UN commission of inquiry says it has found evidence of war crimes including executions, rapes, torture and detention of children in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, following while visiting 27 sites and interviewing more than 150 victims and witnesses.
* Russia denies intentionally attacking civilians during the conflict and says the allegations of abuse are a smear campaign. It did not immediately comment on the report.
* Ukraine said it would downgrade diplomatic relations with Iran over its decision to supply drones to Russian forces.
* Ukraine says two drones killed a woman and destroyed a building in the port of Odessa. An Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone, designed to hit its targets, was destroyed by air defenses over the Black Sea.
* The White House said the United States had no reason to adjust its nuclear posture after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West that he was not lying when he said he was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
* When 27-year-old Nikita witnessed Putin announce a military deployment while visiting his uncle in St Petersburg, he decided to leave his hometown. Two days later, he crossed the border into Finland.
* “Today, the best thing for the people of Kherson is not to open the door,” said Yuriy Sobolevsky, first deputy chairman of the displaced Kherson region, after reports of forced residents. vote in the referendum.