Breaking news of war in Ukraine today: Russian-held territories hold referendum today to break away from Kyiv

Breaking news of war in Ukraine today: Russian-held territories hold referendum today to break away from Kyiv

Full speech: Zelensky tells UN Ukraine is ready for ‘true, honest and just peace’

Four Russian-backed territories in Ukraine, representing about 15% of the besieged country, will start referendums today to break away from Kyiv amid condemnation from Western countries.

The referendums, denounced as a Moscow-led “farce” by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly this week, will take place from today to Tuesday, after which the Kremlin is expected to announce the annexation of the territories to the Russian federation.

Analysts fear that Russia will use this to justify an escalation of its military offensive against Ukraine.

A day after Vladimir Putin announced the partial military deployment of men into Russia’s reserve forces, about 10,000 volunteers enlisted without even waiting for their draft papers, the Russian General Staff said.

But there are also reports of attempts to evade a possible summons, with prices for one-way flights from Moscow to the nearest foreign locations soaring above $5,000 (£4,440), with most airline tickets completely sold out.

And on Thursday night, the Russian Foreign Minister walked out of the UN Security Council after accusing Ukraine of Russophobia and Neo-Nazism.


18 Russian soldiers killed, howitzers and tanks destroyed – Ukraine military

Ukrainian troops killed 18 Russian soldiers, officials at the southern operational command said in the latest war update.

At least 18 Russian soldiers were killed and three Msta-S and Msta-B howitzers, two tanks and two armored vehicles were destroyed on Thursday, the military unit said, the military unit said. The Kyiv Independent.


Russia’s Mobilization Movement Shows That Its Regular Army Has Collapsed – Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky said Vladimir Putin’s decision to announce partial mobilization in Moscow is a “frank admission” of the Russian army’s failure in its war against Ukraine.

“Russia’s decision on mobilization is a frank admission that its regular army, which has been prepared for decades to take over a foreign country, did not resist and fell apart,” he said in his Thursday night speech.

The war swept through every Russian home, he added.

“And now, due to mobilization, Russia’s war against Ukraine for most Russian citizens is not something on TV or the Internet, but something that has entered every Russian household,” Zelensky said.


Britons return home with families after ‘traumatic experience’

In case you missed it: Britons freed by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine thanked supporters as they flew back to Britain. All five have now returned home:


Tearful Farewells to Russian Reservists and Families

Families said goodbye with tears to the men who left the centers of military mobilization in Russia. Video footage from the eastern Siberian town of Neryungri showed men exiting a stadium. Before boarding the buses, they hugged family members who were waiting outside, many crying and some covering their mouths with their hands in mourning.

A man held a child out of a bus window for one last look. In Moscow, women hugged each other, cried and made the sign of the cross at the men at another mobilization point.

A 25-year-old who only gave his first name, Dmitry, received a hug from his father, who told him “Be careful” as they parted. Dmitry told Russian media company Ostorozhno Novosti that he did not expect to be called and sent so quickly, especially since he is still a student. “Nobody said anything to me this morning. They gave me advance notice that I was supposed to come here at 3pm. We waited 1.5 hours, then the enlistment officer came and said we are leaving now,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, great!’ I went out and started calling my parents, my brother, all my friends to say they take me.”


How the Western Allies Helped Secure the Liberation of the British

Months of secret international negotiations were behind the release of captured British and Ukrainian fighters.

More than 200 Azov Battalion fighter jets were also released.

In return, Moscow received 55 prisoners, including Vladimir Putin’s friend Viktor Medvedchuk, writes Kim Sengupta:


Why Moscow is calling referendums

Four occupied regions in Ukraine are due to start voting on Friday in Kremlin-planned referendums on whether to become part of Russia. Here’s why:


Returns at border crossings amid ‘panic’ for tickets

Long traffic jams formed at Russian border crossings into Georgia as Russians continued to try to escape the country.

A Russian-language news site gave a list of “where to flee now from Russia”.

A Russian, who identified himself only as Vasily, traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, with his wife, teenage daughter and six suitcases.

“The mobilization was inevitable because there was a shortage of human resources. I am not worried because I am already 59 years old and my son lives abroad,” he said.

A truck driver who crossed the Russian-Kazakh border on Thursday said he saw unusually heavy traffic from the Russian side.

A tourist industry source said there was desperation as people were looking for air tickets out of Russia.

“This is a panic demand from people who are afraid they won’t be able to leave the country later – people are buying tickets no matter where they fly,” the source said.


Exodus reports exaggerated, Russia insists

Russia says reports of a mass exodus from the country are exaggerated.

Dmitri Peskov, press secretary to President Putin, said: “The information about the hype at airports and so on is greatly exaggerated… There is a lot of false information about it. We need to be very careful with this so that we don’t fall victim to false information on this matter.”

Russian news agencies reported that 10,000 people volunteered to fight even before their call-up papers arrived, citing the Russian General Staff.

President Putin’s Defense Minister says the reserve mobilization is intended to recruit around 300,000 men.

Anti-war protests in 38 Russian cities led to more than 1,300 arrests on Wednesday, a monitoring group said.

Some of the detainees were ordered to report to enlistment offices on Thursday, the first full day of enlistment, independent news agencies said. More demonstrations are planned for the weekend.


UN chief warns of ‘endless’ horror and bloodshed

The UN Secretary-General has warned that the latest developments in the war in Ukraine are one step closer to an “endless cycle of horror and bloodshed”.

Antonio Guterres called Russia’s nuclear threats against the West “totally unacceptable” during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Watch here:


Flight tickets from Moscow sell out even at record prices

One-way airfare prices from Moscow soared as Russian men continued to make their way to the country’s borders after Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization.

Airfares from the capital to the nearest foreign locations soared above $5,000 (£4,440), with most airline seats completely sold out in the coming days.

Traffic at the borders with Finland also continued to increase, and social media groups emerged with advice on how to get out of Russia.

“War is horrible,” Sergei, a Russian who declined to give his last name, told Reuters upon arriving in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. “It’s okay to be afraid of war and death and stuff like that.”

A Russian man who identified himself as Alex said he left Russia in part because of the mobilization.

“Partial mobilization is one of the reasons I’m here,” he said. “It seems to be a very bad step, and it could lead to a lot of trouble for many Russians.”

He said he thought few Russians would want to be sent to fight.

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