Ukraine Latest: Russia Pushes Annexation; Putin May Speak Friday

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The Kremlin may complete the annexation of the four occupied regions of Ukraine as soon as next week, just days after what the United Nations has denounced as illegal votes to join Russia. President Vladimir Putin may make his annual address to parliament Friday, a state news agency reported, days after the so-called referendums are due to end.

Seven months after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia is attempting to annex some of its neighbor’s most productive farmland and industrial areas. Putin ordered another 300,000 troops conscripted this week into Russia’s “special military operation.”

Russian occupation authorities began drafting men in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, Ukrainian officials said. Envoys from European countries traveled to Izyum on Friday to visit a mass burial site exhumed after Ukraine recaptured the region from Russian troops this month.

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Key Developments

  • Putin’s Conscripts Won’t Win His War But May Drag It Out

  • Russians Confront New Normal as Annexation Voting Continues

  • Zelenskiy Says China’s Position on Russian Invasion ‘Ambiguous’

  • EU Rushes to Agree on an Oil Price Cap After Putin’s Threats

  • Russia’s Lavrov Scorns West by Arriving Late at UN, Walking Out

  • Blinken Calls Russian Seizure of Nuclear Plant ‘Flagrant Breach’

On the Ground

Russian forces fired missiles at infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Ochakiv, Ukraine’s southern military command said on Facebook. Moscow’s troops fired missives at Mykolaiv, and a bakery and residential buildings were shelled in Marhanets in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Kyiv’s forces reasserted control of bridges across the Dnipro in the Kherson region and destroyed reserves of Russian weapons nearby. In the city of Kherson, a concentration of Russian weapons and machinery was attacked, as well as several control posts, officials said. The Ukrainian army downed six Iranian drones Shahed and one Mohajer-6 drones, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Facebook.

(All times CET)

Russian Lawmakers May Hold Sept. 29 Annexation Vote (7:10 p.m.)

The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, may vote on Sept. 29 on the accord for occupied Ukrainian regions to join Russia, Ria Novosti reported, citing a source it didn’t identify.

President Vladimir Putin plans to address the Federal Assembly, a joint session of both houses of parliament, the next day, the news agency reported earlier Saturday.

The president addresses the body annually on major domestic and foreign policy topics.

China Warns Against Ukraine War Spillover (6:35 p.m.)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on all sides to avoid widening the war in Ukraine and said the solution is to “address the legitimate security concerns of all parties.”

“We call on all parties concerned to keep the crisis from spilling over and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries,” Wang said in a General Assembly speech at the United Nations on Saturday.

Moscow Plans One-Time Payments to Draftees (5:30 p.m.)

Deputies from the ruling United Russia party and the Communist Party submitted the bill to be reviewed by the parliament on a one-time payment of 300,000 rubles ($5,184) to all Russians, who will be drafted to fight in Ukraine, according to the parliament’s disclosure.

The drafted people will also be offered waivers of paying interest on mortgages and consumer loans for the duration of their service. Housing and communal services will also be canceled during this period.

As many Russian trying for flee from mobilization abroad or at home already Russia has offered salaries for draftees equal to those that contracted military staff gets, which is several times the Russian average. The average real salary in June was 66,500 rubles, according to statistic service

Eight Grain Vessels Sail From Ukraine’s Ports (3:45 p.m.)

Eight ships carrying a total of 131,300 tons of agricultural products to Africa, Asia and Europe were set to leave the ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk on Saturday, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said on Facebook. Six ships sailed early in the morning and formed a caravan, with two more were on the way.

Since the safe-transit agreement brokered by Turkey and the UN was reached between Ukraine and Russia in late July, 221 ships have left Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea with 4.7 million tons of agriculture products, chiefly grains.

Russia Shakes Up Army; Mariupol General Advances (12:07 p.m.)

Russia’s defense ministry announced personnel changes among its generals. No explanation was given for the move, days after President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists in an escalation of the now seven-month conflict.

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense, responsible for the supply and logistics, the ministry said in its official Telegram channel. General Dmitry Bulgakov leaves the post for another, unspecified job, it said.

Mizintsev was sanctioned by the UK in March for what it called his “reprehensible tactics” in combat including “atrocities” against the Ukrainian people during the siege of the southern city of Mariupol -- as well as shelling civilian centers in Aleppo, Syria, in 2015-16.

European Envoys Visited Izyum Mass Graves Site (11 a.m.)

Ambassadors from over a dozen European countries visited Izyum in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Friday and saw mass grave sites uncovered found when Kyiv’s troops recaptured the area. Some 436 bodies have been exhumed, including children.

The visit also took in the site of a residential building destroyed by a Russian bomb, killing 53 people.

“The world must know the truth about the bloody crimes of the occupiers. That is why it is extremely important that today foreign diplomats were able to see with their own eyes what the Russian occupiers leave behind,” said Andrii Sybiha, deputy head of Ukraine’s Office of the President.

Zelenskiy Says China’s Position ‘Ambiguous’ (10:26 a.m.)

Ukraine’s president said he would like to renew relations with China, whose position on the Russian invasion he termed “ambiguous.”

“I would like them to help Ukraine,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview with a French newspaper. A call with Chinese President Xi Jinping “would be difficult today.”

The comments came after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Ukrainian counterpart this week during the UN General Assembly in New York.

Russia Hits Dams to Slow Kyiv’s Advance, UK Says (8:30 a.m.)

Russian forces targeted the Pechenihy dam on the Siverskyi Donets River this week following a hit a week ago to another major dam upriver in Kryvyi Rih, the UK defense ministry said in a Twitter update.

“Ukrainian forces are advancing further downstream along both rivers. As Russian commanders become increasingly concerned about their operational setbacks, they are probably attempting to strike the sluice gates of dams, in order to flood Ukrainian military crossing points,” the UK said.

Zelenskiy Says Russia Gave UN ‘Lying Propaganda’ (8 a.m.)

Ukraine’s president said he had a “really positive” response to his speech to the UN General Assembly this week, where he outlined proposals for security guarantees.

Zelenskiy said he met via video conference with representatives of BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, among others, as part of the week’s activities.

“And what did Russia present? Once again, lame excuses, complaints and constant lying propaganda,” Zelenskiy said in a nightly address to the nation on Friday.

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