EU foreign policy chief denounces "illegal" referendums in Russian-occupied Ukraine
From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin
The European Union “denounces” the holding of illegal referendums by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday.
The referendums – condemned by Western countries as a sham – have seen four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine vote on whether to join Russia via polls which are contrary to international law.
“The EU denounces holding of illegal “referenda” and their falsified outcome,” Borrell said in a tweet, adding, “This is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systematic abuses of human rights.”
“We commend the courage of Ukrainians, who continue to oppose and resist Russian invasion,” he added.
2:52 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
Ukrainian military claims untrained Russian soldiers arriving in combat areas following mobilization effort
From CNN’s Olga Voitovych and Hannah Ritchie
Untrained Russian forces are arriving in combat zones across Ukraine following the Kremlin’s mobilization effort, the Ukrainian military claimed Wednesday in its daily situational update.
“In the Russian occupation forces, the recruitment of personnel called up for partial mobilization has begun. Thus, reinforcements arrived for the units of the 1st tank regiment of the 2nd motor rifle division of the 1st tank army, which are deployed to the combat zone. They were not trained at all,” the statement said, adding that persons “convicted of criminal offenses” were also joining the fighting.
CNN is unable to verify the Ukrainian Armed Forces claims.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens, in an effort to bolster the Kremlin’s faltering invasion, following Ukraine’s gains in its ongoing counteroffensive.
Experts have previously expressed concerns about the state of Russian forces in Ukraine and their ability to get new recruits sufficiently trained.
3:53 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
European leaders express concerns of sabotage over Nord Stream pipeline leaks
Several European leaders have suggested three leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea were caused deliberately.
On Tuesday the Danish Prime Minister said she sees the leaks as “deliberate actions.”
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also said Tuesday that the incident is “likely a deliberate action.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen referred to the pipeline leaks as "sabotage action" in a tweet Tuesday. She added that, “Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response."
Finland Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Tuesday that the damage caused to the pipelines is "very concerning," following a call with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde.
"There should be a full investigation into the incident. Sabotage to the pipelines cannot be excluded. (This poses) serious risks for the environment and shipping," he added.
Even Russia, which built the network, said the possibility of sabotage could not be ruled out.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the pipelines, in safety documents published before any news emerged of the leaks, had said that the probability of a pipeline failure or leakage is “as low as one damage event every 100,000 years”.
8:15 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
Canada to impose new sanctions on "persons and entities" involved in "sham referendums" in Ukraine
From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie
Canada will impose fresh sanctions on “persons and entities” involved in carrying out “sham referendums” in Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
“Canada does not and will not ever recognize the results of these sham referendums or Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories,” Trudeau said.
“In response to this further escalation, we intend to impose new sanctions against persons and entities that are complicit in this latest attempt to undermine the principles of state sovereignty, and that share responsibility for the ongoing senseless bloodshed across Ukraine,” he added.
Some context: Pro-Russian authorities have held so-called referendums across Ukraine in the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.
The votes - which are illegal under international law - have been dismissed as a “sham” by Ukraine and Western nations.
An exclusive CNN poll of Ukrainians conducted in February, just before Russia’s invasion, found that no region of the country had more than one in five people backing Ukrainian "unification" with Russia.
2:12 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
UK urges United Nations to reject results of illegal "sham" referendums
A British ambassador has urged the United Nations to reject the results of illegal Russian-backed "sham" referendums in Ukraine.
During a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the war, the United Kingdom's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN James Kariuki said the referendums were "an egregious violation" of the principles of the UN Charter.
"We’ve all seen images of soldiers with automatic rifles accompanying the ballots as they move from door to door, forcing Ukrainians to take part. Any referenda held under these conditions, at the barrel of a gun, can never be remotely close to free or fair," Kariuki said.
"The very idea that a referendum on a fundamental question could be held at three days’ notice in the middle of a war zone is frankly farcical," he added.
"We must all unequivocally reject these illegitimate actions and Russian attempts to illegally annex Ukrainian territory," he said.
2:32 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
Pro-Russian authorities declare majorities in illegal "sham" referendums as fears of annexation grow
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Tim Lister
Russian state media say election commissions in four occupied regions of Ukraine have returned majorities in favor of joining the Russian Federation, following referendums described as a "sham" by Western governments and Kyiv.
The so-called referendums — called at short notice by pro-Russian authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine — are against international law and have been widely condemned by Western governments. They were not observed by independent monitors.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said that the commissions had published the results of referendums in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics. It did not say whether these were the final results.
The referendum plans were suddenly announced a week ago by Russian-backed local administrations and immediately welcomed in Moscow.
Ukrainian officials say that turnout has been extremely low and that pro-Russian voters have been bused in from Crimea.
"The results are obvious. Welcome home to Russia!" said Dmitriy Medvedev, the former Russian president who is now the deputy chairman of the country's Security Council, responding to the state media reports.
Officials anticipate Russia could now move quickly to annex the four areas, potentially within days. Such a move could provide Moscow with a pretext to escalate its faltering war, which has seen Kyiv regain thousands of square miles of territory this month.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov previously indicated that if the regions announced majorities in favor of joining Russia, the ratification process would be fast and they could become part of the Russian Federation “quite soon.”
Asked if that would mean any attempt by Ukraine to regain the territories would be regarded as an attack on Russian territory, Peskov said: “Of course.”
1:42 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
US Secretary of State: Sabotage of Nord Stream pipeline is "in no one's interest"
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if the leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline were caused by sabotage, “that’s clearly in no one's interest.”
Speaking at a press conference at the State Department Tuesday, Blinken noted the cause of the leaks is being investigated.
“There are initial reports indicating that this may be the result of an attack or some kind of sabotage, but these are initial reports and we haven't confirmed that yet,” he said. “But if it is confirmed, that's clearly in no one's interest.”
The top US diplomat said it was his understanding that “the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe's energy resilience.”
“What's critical is that we are working, day in, day out, both on a short term basis and a long term basis to address energy security for Europe and, for that matter, around the world,” he said.
In a readout of Blinken’s call, State Department spokesperson Ned Pride said the US was "united" with allies on promoting European energy security.
1:42 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
UN "deeply disturbed" as thousands detained in Russia protests
From CNN's Chris Liakos and Eve Brennan
The United Nations has expressed concern over the detention of thousands of demonstrators in Russia protesting against President Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization order.
“We are deeply disturbed by the large number of people who have reportedly been arrested in the Russian Federation for protesting after the authorities announced a partial mobilization of troops in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tuesday.
“We stress that arresting people solely for exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty. We call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained and for the authorities to abide by their international obligations to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly,” Shamdasani added.
At least 2,398 people have been detained in various cities across Russia from Sept. 21 to Sept. 26, the latest data on Tuesday by independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info shows.
1:41 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022
Swedish seismologists detected explosions near Nord Stream pipelines
From CNN’s Livvy Doherty, Sharon Braithwaite, Robert North and Chris Liakos
The Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) said Tuesday that it had detected two explosions on Monday near the Nord Stream pipelines.
The first explosion was recorded at 2:03 a.m. local time in the early hours of Monday and the second one 17 hours later, at 7:04 p.m. on Monday evening, according to SNSN.
SNSN said that one of the underwater explosions resulted in a tremor of 2.3 magnitude.
According to SNSN, the last time a similar seismological event was registered in the area was in 2016. It added that this area is not usually used for defense exercises.
The German geological research centre, GFZ, told CNN that two tremors were registered at similar times at a seismic station on the Danish island of Bornholm, again close to the reported leaks on the pipelines.