This is the situation on Saturday September 24th.
- Russia has launched referendums aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine and has been condemned by Kyiv and Western nations, who dismissed the votes as “sham” and vowed not to recognize the results.
- Ukrainian officials said people had been banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over, armed groups had gone into homes to force people to vote and employees had been threatened with sacking if they would not have participated.
- Votes in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces were hastily organized after Ukraine’s counter-offensive retook large parts of the north-east.
- Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations condemned the votes as an illegitimate precursor to an illegal annexation. There are no independent observers and much of the pre-war population has fled.
- Russia maintains that the referendums are an opportunity for people in the region to express their opinions.
- The United States is ready to impose additional economic costs on Russia, along with US allies, if Moscow proceeds with the annexation of parts of Ukrainian territory, the White House said.
- NATO will step up its aid to Kyiv in response to the “sham” referendums, the alliance’s secretary-general said.
- British music stars Harry Styles and Ed Sheeran, US basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and other celebrities will donate personal items to a campaign launched to support healthcare in Ukraine.
- A United Nations commission of inquiry said it found evidence of war crimes, including executions, rape, torture and imprisonment of children in Russian-occupied Ukraine, after visiting 27 territories and interviewing more than 150 victims and witnesses.
- Russia denies intentionally targeting civilians in the conflict and says allegations of abuse are a smear campaign. It did not immediately comment on the report.
- Ukraine said it will belittle diplomatic ties with Iran over its decision to provide Russian forces with drones.
- Russia this week attacked the Pechenihy Dam on the Siverskyi Donets River in northeast Ukraine using short-range ballistic missiles or similar weapons, the British military said.
- Russian commanders may try to smash through dam floodgates to flood Ukrainian military crossing points, Britain’s Defense Ministry has said.
- A Russian missile hit an apartment building in Zaporizhia, claiming casualties, the city’s acting mayor said.
- Ukraine said two drones killed a woman and destroyed a building in Odessa port. An Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone designed to hit its targets was destroyed by anti-aircraft defenses over the Black Sea.
- The White House said the United States sees no reason to change its nuclear stance after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned the West he was not bluffing when he said he was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
- Some draft-age Russians headed abroad to escape their country’s largest conscription campaign since World War II.
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