Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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World leaders meeting at the United Nations in New York denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow-installed leaders in occupied areas of four Ukrainian regions announced plans to hold referendums on joining Russia in coming days.

DIPLOMACY/POLITICS

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* In the apparently coordinated move, pro-Russian figures announced referendums for Sept. 23-27 in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing around 15% of Ukrainian territory, or an area about the size of Hungary.

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* Some pro-Kremlin figures framed the referendums as an ultimatum to the West to accept Russian territorial gains or face an all-out war with a nuclear-armed foe.

* Reframing the fighting in occupied territory as an attack on Russia could give Moscow a justification to mobilize its 2 million-strong military reserves.

* U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington rejected any such referendums “unequivocally.” French President Emmanuel Macron and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda both described the planned votes as “parody.”

* EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc would not recognize the outcome of the referendums

* U.S. President Joe Biden will try to rally the world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, saying Moscow’s war against its neighbor violates the tenets of the U.N. charter.

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FIGHTING

* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin will only give up his “imperial ambitions” that risk destroying Ukraine and Russia if he recognizes he cannot win the war.

* In Kherson, where the regional capital is the only major city Russia has so far captured intact since the invasion, Ukraine has launched a major counter-offensive.

* Ukraine’s armed forces regain control of the village of Bilohorivka, preparing to retake all of Luhansk province from Russian occupiers, provincial Governor Serhiy Gaidai said. The village is only 10 km (6 miles) west of Lysychansk city, which fell to the Russians after weeks of grinding battles in July.

* Reuters could not verify battlefield reports.

QUOTES

* “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a conduct that tramples the philosophy and principles of the U.N. charter … It should never be tolerated,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

* “The situation on at the front clearly indicates the initiative is with Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address released early on Wednesday. (Compiled by Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry)



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