Day 219 of the Invasion of Ukraine: "Treaty" and a Concert in Moscow, Putin begins the Annexation of Occupied Regions
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Putin signed decrees recognizing Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions as independent
At a solemn ceremony in the St. George's Hall in the Kremlin, the treaties on the accession to Russia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and the Russian army-controlled Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in Ukraine will be signed.
The start of the ceremony is announced at 15:00 p.m. Moscow and Bulgarian time. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pekov said a lengthy speech by Vladimir Putin was expected. At the same time, Peskov clarified that it is not about the annual message of the head of state to the Federal Assembly. After the ceremony, a large rally is planned in Red Square with the participation of the president. The procedure for the accession of the new territories is expected to be completed next week. First, the constitutional court will check whether the treaties comply with the basic law of the country. With a positive opinion of the court, the president will submit to the State Duma both the treaties and a draft of a federal constitutional law for the admission of new entities into the composition of the Russian Federation. The Duma is due to ratify the documents at its meeting on October 3. The very next day, they must be approved by the Council of the Federation and finally signed by the head of state.
The US will never recognize Russia's claims in Ukraine
US President Joe Biden has vowed to "never, ever" recognize the results of the Russian-led referendums in Ukraine, which he called a "gross violation" of international principles.
"I want to be very clear on this matter. The United States will never, ever recognize Russia's claims to the sovereign territory of Ukraine," Biden said during his meeting with Pacific island leaders in Washington.
"The so-called referendums were a fraud, an absolute fraud. The results were fabricated in Moscow," he said.
"The true will of the Ukrainian people is evident every day as they sacrifice their lives to save their people and preserve their country's independence," Biden said.
Regarding President Vladimir Putin, Biden said: "Russia's attack on Ukraine in pursuit of Putin's imperial ambitions is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The Kremlin said the annexation of four regions of Ukraine would be officially announced on September 30, when Putin will deliver a speech.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier called the Kremlin-staged vote an attack on international peace.
"The Kremlin's fake referendums are a futile attempt to cover up what amounts to another attempt to grab land from Ukraine," Blinken said in a statement.
The referendums were held in areas controlled by Kremlin-appointed administrators and follow the scenario of 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.
Blinken previously called the latest vote part of a "diabolical scheme", saying Ukrainian residents were pushed out and Russians bussed in, with the results themselves also in question.
The Battle of Lyman: The defeat of the Russians is expected within hours, the VSU might spoil Putin's special day
The battle of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (VSU) to capture the occupied Lyman is in a decisive phase, Ukrainian units are advancing from the north and southeast and Russia may suffer defeat in the next few hours. This is what Rob Lee of the American Institute for Foreign Policy Research believes, according to whom the ring-fenced Russians are in a fatal position. Russian military bloggers came out with similar comments even before midnight, claiming in an alarming tone that the past night and today will be decisive for the Russian troops in the area.
Russia's loss at Lyman will overshadow the announcement of the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories, Lee believes. According to him, it is unlikely that the Russians will be able to withdraw. Russian telegram channels write that the city is surrounded, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces are firing artillery, mortars and HIMARS. The Kremlin media adds that Lyman repeats the fate of Balakliia.
On the Russian side, the city is trying to contain units of the republican army of the so-called DNR and the Russian infantry. Surrounding them are the "Bars-13" detachment - the so-called "Russian Legion" and the 20th General Army with headquarters in Voronezh. RIA Novosti dramatically adds that the small number of remaining civilians are "begging the soldiers" not to leave them alone with the VSU and "Right Sector", which are expected to enter Lyman. According to the latest data, the forces of Kyiv have regained control over the village of Shandriholove in the Donetsk region, Drobyshevo and Yampol have been captured. The Ukrainian army occupied Kolodezi, Zelena Dolina and cut the Svatovo-Makeevka-Terni-Lyman line. From Kolodezi, a unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted reconnaissance with combat in the direction of Zarechniy (Kirovsk).
After losing contact with the separatists and the Russian forces supporting them overnight, on Friday morning Russian military channels announced that contact with the Russian garrison had been restored and, according to the Russians, Lyman remained under the control of the so-called allied forces. The reports from the front from the last minutes are that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have subjected the "road of life" for the Russians and the separatists, the Svatovo-Lyman road, through which the supply and transfer of reserves passes, to a massive shelling. Dibrov, Brusino railway station and Stariy Karavan are also under fire. Ukrainian forces are fighting from Kolodezi in the north and from the bridgehead on the banks of the Seversky Donets River in the south.
"Without the transfer of significant reinforcements and the concentration of attention of the command of the Russian Air Force on the Lyman direction, there is a serious risk of the loss of Lyman and further destruction of the defensive system of the Russian Air Force along the western border of the LPR," commented Russian sources.
The "Starshe Eddie Z" channel broadcasts a live speech from the scene of hostilities of one of the Russian fighters:
“Hello brother. I'm back from Lyman. I barely dodged mortars twice on the way. Khokhli (Ukrainians) shell on the road with waiting. What saved me was that I was reducing the car's speed, then, I was giving gas. A 120 mm shell exploded 20 meters from me. Their drones fly everywhere. A brutal shooting is going on in the outskirts of Lyman. Mujahideen from the 488th Motorized Rifle Regiment (144th Motorized Rifle Division, part of the 20th General Army, stationed in the Smolensk and Bryansk regions - note ed.) from three defend the city. Some guy with a grenade launcher f**ked a Ukrainian M113 APC, the guys captured a pickup with a browning. But the hits are very cruel, you can't raise your head. The forest to the south, according to scouts, is littered with Khokhli corpses. For a whole day's fighting, we have one killed and three wounded. So, apparently, justice is on our side.”
Kremlin military correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny commented that the enemy is using huge forces, mechanized units and the support of high-precision Western artillery. "As always, Western intelligence tools have been activated in the actions along the key lines. The troop management system is organized by Western advisers," Poddubny tried to belittle Ukrainian efforts.
Russian strike kills at least 23 people in Zaporizhzhia
A Ukrainian official said a Russian strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia killed at least 23 people and wounded 28, the Associated Press reported.
Zaporizhzhia Regional Governor Alexander Starukh made the announcement in an online statement on Friday.
He said Russian forces attacked a humanitarian convoy headed for Russian-occupied territory. He posted pictures of burnt vehicles and bodies lying on the road. Russia did not immediately acknowledge the strike.
Starukh said the people in the convoy planned to travel to Russian-occupied territory to pick up their relatives and then take them to safety. He said rescuers were at the scene of the attack.
Putin admitted "mistakes" in the mobilization, Zelensky called on the military to stop him
Russian President Vladimir Putin called yesterday for a "correction" of the mistakes made in the partial mobilization in Russia in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. The words from the briefing follow data that the "partial" mobilization announced last week actually falls outside the categories outlined by the Ministry of Defence.
Data appeared from all over Russia about mobilized people without experience, beyond the appropriate age, fathers of many children. Putin recalled that the call is for "citizens who are in reserve and, above all, those who have gone through military service in the armed forces of Russia" with the necessary experience.
"This mobilization raises many questions. The mistakes must be corrected and their reproduction should not be allowed. If a mistake was made, it must be corrected and those mobilized by mistake should be returned home," Putin said.
Moreover, according to him, in his opinion, the cases of appeal for citizens who are granted deferment - from fathers of many children to people with chronic diseases.
Putin's words follow criticism from those close to power about the way the mobilization is proceeding. Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov subsequently confirmed the "mistakes".
In its latest briefing, the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes that the Kremlin continues to violate the "partial mobilization" and contradict itself even after acknowledging a "systemic failure" in the Russian bureaucracy just eight days after its announcement. Putin's address was interpreted as shifting the blame to other institutions - the headquarters, the Ministry of Defense, the subjects of the federation.
"The Kremlin's contradictory statements and procedures demonstrate the fundamental nature of the systemic weakness of Russian military leadership that characterized the entire invasion," the institute continued. "The bureaucratic failures ... may indicate that Putin has once again bypassed the Russian military leadership or the Russian Defense Ministry."
Meanwhile, in his latest address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia would "join the catastrophe it brought to the occupied territories of Ukraine" with the annexation and called on the military to stop "the only one who wants war" (an apparent reference to Putin).
“The occupier fills graves in the occupied territory of Ukraine. And increasingly on the territory of Russia itself. The occupier is setting up torture chambers in the occupied territories and will fill the entire territory of Russia with torture chambers. This is the only way the Russian police, the Russian special services will work now. The law in Russia has been destroyed,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine
This happens hours before the expected signing of the "international treaties" that will annex 15% of Ukraine.
Erdogan asked Putin to give peace a chance, according to the UN, annexation "has no place in the modern world"
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to give peace another chance and take steps to reduce tensions in Ukraine.
This was said in a statement by the Turkish presidency after a conversation between the two leaders. The same message said that Erdogan expressed his opposition to plans to annex the four regions of Donbas and southern Ukraine (the Kremlin omitted Erdogan's opinion on the annexation of the "referendums" after which the territories would be annexed).
In addition, the Turkish leader asked to extend the export deal for Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea ports.
The message is not available on the presidency's website, but the quote from "Habertürk" also says that Erdogan expressed to Putin the willingness of his administration to mediate in the process.
The call was reported shortly before Russia announced it was recognizing the independence of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions as it prepares to annex them and the "people's republics" in Donbas later today.
In the Kremlin's version, the two talked about the "unprecedented sabotage" against Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 (for which Russia will appeal to the UN Security Council), the economy, bilateral trade, gas and grain, and referendums were conducted "in conditions of transparency, in full compliance with the norms and principles of international legislation".
Earlier, US President Joe Biden said the US would "never, ever" recognize the "parody" "referendums" nor Russia's claims to "Ukrainian sovereign territory".
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that any annexation of territory would constitute a violation of international law and was a "dangerous escalation that has no place in the modern world".
Von der Leyen: Democracy in Ukraine will win
In Greece, the permit for the operation of the section of the interconnector in the section from Komotini to the border with Bulgaria has already been signed. This was announced by the Greek gas company DEPA. Ahead of her visit to Sofia tomorrow for the official opening of the gas connection, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Athens, where she spoke about supporting Ukraine in the war in Russia.
"Democracy in Ukraine will win," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said from the Athens International Forum.
In a speech, she emphasized that the European Union has reacted quickly with measures against Russia's aggression, provides financial assistance to Kyiv, and all European countries accept Ukrainian refugees, providing them with protection.
"It is the duty of our generation to defend democracy," the president of the European Commission said at the forum.
Ursula von der Leyen announced that tomorrow she will visit Sofia for the official opening of the gas connection between Greece and Bulgaria.
Today, the national gas company DEPA announced that the permit for the operation of the Greek section of the gas pipeline in the section from Komotini to the border with Bulgaria has been signed.
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