Salem Radio Network News Friday, December 9, 2022

World

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) – Russia launched referendums aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations who dismissed the votes as a sham and pledged not to recognise their results.

REFERENDUMS

* Ukrainian officials said people were banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over, armed groups were going to homes to force people to cast ballots, and employees were threatened with the sack if they did not participate.

* Reuters could not immediately verify reports of coercion.

* The votes in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were hastily organised after Ukraine recaptured large swathes of the northeast in a counter-offensive.

* Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations condemned the votes as an illegitimate precursor to illegal annexation. There are no independent observers, and much of the pre-war population has fled.

* The United States is prepared to impose additional economic costs on Russia in conjunction with U.S. allies if Moscow moves forward with annexing portions of Ukrainian territory, the White House said.

* NATO will ramp up its help for Kyiv in response to the “sham” referendums, the alliance’s secretary-general said.

* Russia maintains that the referendums offer an opportunity for people in the region to express their view.

FIGHTING, ABUSES

* Russian attacked a dam on the Siverskyi Donets river with a suspected short-range ballistic missile, the second strike on a dam since Sept. 15, apparently with the aim of flooding Ukrainian military crossing points, British military intelligence said.

* A Russian missile hit a residential building in Zaporizhzhia causing casualties, the town’s acting mayor told media.

* A U.N.-mandated investigation commission said it had found evidence of war crimes including executions, rape, torture and confinement of children in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, after visits to 27 areas and interviews with more than 150 victims and witnesses.

* Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians in the conflict and says abuse accusations are a smear campaign. It did not immediately comment on the report.

* Ukraine said it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over its decision to supply Russian forces with drones.

* The White House said the United States sees no reason to adjust its nuclear posture after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s warned the West he was not bluffing when he said he’d be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

(Compiled by Robert Birsel)

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