Kremlin-organised referendums continue in Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine.
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Russian police block mobilisation protests, arrest hundreds
Russian police moved quickly to disperse protests against President Vladimir Putin's military mobilisation order, arresting hundreds, in scores of cities across the country.
Police detained nearly 750 people, including over 370 in Moscow and some 150 in St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, an independent website that monitors political arrests in Russia. Some of the arrested individuals were minors, OVD-Info said.
Demonstrations in several cities in Russia followed protests that erupted within hours Wednesday after Putin announced a call-up of experienced and skilled army reservists. Journalist Dasha Chernyshova reports from Moscow pic.twitter.com/7rujtSevNo— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 24, 2022
Tough penalties for Russians fleeing conscription
Putin signed a decree doubling prison sentences for those fleeing a mandatory call-up for military duty from five to 10 years.
Also under the decree, soldiers who surrender voluntarily to the enemy army could face 10 years in prison, and those who plunder during wartime could be sentenced to 15 years.
Putin also signed another decree allowing foreigners serving in the Russian army to apply for citizenship without a residence permit, applying to foreigners who have entered into a contract with the Russian armed forces for a period of at least one year.
EU candidate Serbia and Russia sign foreign policy agreement
Serbia has signed an agreement with Russia for mutual “consultations” on foreign policy matters, the Balkan country’s media have reported.
Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selakovic signed the agreement Friday along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
The consultation plan covered by the agreement is expected to last for two years, Serbia's foreign ministry said in a Friday statement.
Russia replaces top logistics general amid mobilisation
Russia has announced the replacement of its highest ranking general in charge of logistics amid a mobilisation drive for the Ukraine military operation that revealed widespread logistical problems.
"Army General Dmitry Bulgakov has been relieved of the post of deputy minister of defence" and will be replaced by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the defence ministry said on Telegram.
Mizintsev, aged 60, is under British sanctions over his role in the siege of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, seized by Russian troops in May.
Iran regrets Ukraine's downgrading of ties over drones
Iran regrets Ukraine's decision to downgrade ties over the reported supply of Iranian drones to Russia, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Nasser Kanaani said Ukraine should "refrain from being influenced by third parties who seek to destroy relations between the two countries," a ministry statement said. Kanaani added that Ukraine's decision was "based on unconfirmed reports and resulted from a media hype by foreign parties."
Ukraine said on Friday that it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran's decision to supply Russian forces with drones, a move President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called "a collaboration with evil."
World will unite in Ukraine's defence and completely oppose Russia's expansionist agenda - Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pic.twitter.com/1pRnXxMk2d— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 24, 2022
Russians strike Ukraine as Kremlin-organised votes continue
Russian forces have launched new strikes on Ukrainian cities as Kremlin-held votes continued in captured regions of Ukraine to pave the way for their annexation by Moscow.
Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh said the Russians targeted infrastructure facilities in the Dnieper River city and one of the missiles hit an apartment building, killing one person and injuring seven others.
The Russian forces also struck other areas in Ukraine, damaging residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.
UK says Russia struck dam this week on Siverskyi Donets river
Russia struck the Pechenihy dam on the Siverskyi Donets River in northeast Ukraine this week using short-range ballistic missiles or similar weapons, the British military has said.
The attack on September 21 and 22 followed an earlier one on the Karachunivske dam near Krivyi Rih in central Ukraine on September 15, the Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin, adding that Ukrainian forces are advancing further downstream along both rivers.
Russian commanders may be attempting to strike the gates of the dams in order to flood Ukrainian military crossing points, the ministry said in its bulletin released on Twitter.
Voting has begun in four Russian-held regions in Ukraine on whether to join Russia. It will continue until September 27. Kiev and the West call it a gross violation of international law pic.twitter.com/7EzV67zP7J— TRT World (@trtworld) September 23, 2022
Ukraine ports ship nearly 4.7M tonnes of food under grain deal
A total of 211 ships with 4.7 million tonnes of agricultural products on board have left Ukraine so far under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye to unblock Ukrainian sea ports, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry said.
The ministry said eight ships with 131,300 tonnes of agricultural products are due to leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Saturday.
Ukraine's grain exports slumped after Russia began its offensive in the country on February 24 and blockaded its Black Sea ports, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.
Zelenskyy urges world to condemn Russia's 'pseudo-referendums'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the world to condemn "pseudo-referendums" as Kremlin proxies began voting on annexation by Russia in Moscow-held areas of Ukraine.
"The world will react absolutely justly to pseudo-referendums -- they will be unequivocally condemned," Zelenskyy said in his daily address to the nation.
Four provinces in Ukraine that are fully or partially controlled by Russia –– Donetsk and Luhansk in the east as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south –– are holding votes on whether to be annexed by Moscow. The ballots have been dismissed as a "sham" by Kiev and its Western allies.
For live updates from Friday (September 23), click here