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Ukraine-Russia war latest: No peace talks while Putin is Russian leader, says Zelensky

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 28/09/2022 Max Stephens, Josh White
Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday night - GETTY IMAGES © GETTY IMAGES Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday night - GETTY IMAGES

Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Tuesday night that Ukraine would never hold peace talks with Russia while Vladimir Putin is leader as the Kremlin prepares to announce mass annexations of Ukrainian land.

Speaking to the UN via videolink, Ukraine's president called for tough new sanctions on Russia following the sham referendums held by Russian officials in land taken by the Kremlin during its invasion of Ukraine. 

The referendums, denounced by Kyiv and its Western allies as rigged, took place in the Russian-controlled Luhansk and Kherson regions, and in occupied areas of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. They are widely viewed as a pretext for announcements that Russia is annexing the territories, just as it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Pro-Moscow officials said later Tuesday that residents in all four occupied areas of Ukraine voted to join Russia, a likely prelude to annexations possibly within days.

Ukraine called the emergency meeting of the Security Council to respond to the referendums

Mr Zelensky told the UN he would not hold talks with Putin: "Russia's recognition of these sham referendums as normal, the implementation of the so-called Crimean scenario and another attempt to annex Ukrainian territory, will mean that there is nothing to talk about with this president of Russia."

Follow the latest updates below.

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09:34 AM

NATO calls Nord Stream leaks acts of sabotage 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attributed the leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines to acts of sabotage and said he had discussed the protection of critical infrastructure in NATO countries with the Danish defence minister.

"Discussed the sabotage on the NorthStream pipelines with Defence Minister Morten Bødskov," he said on Twitter.

"We addressed the protection of critical infrastructure in NATO countries."

09:21 AM

Russian shelling cut power in much of Ukraine's Kharkiv

Russia fired a salvo of missiles at Ukraine's second city Kharkiv overnight, officials said on Wednesday, hitting a railway yard and knocking out power to more than 18,000 households.

Kharkiv governor Oleg Synegubov said Russian forces had fired S-300 missiles, designed as an anti-aircraft weapon but now often re-purposed to hit civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian cities.

The Kharkiv regional emergency service said the blasts, which were audible in the city centre at around 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday, destroyed an electrical transformer and hit a workshop.

No casualties were reported, but the regional energy company said 18,500 customers in the Shevchenkivsky, Kholodnogirsky and Novobavarsky districts of the city had lost electricity.

Kharkiv residents in these districts woke to find their power cut and commuter trams marooned without current in the streets.

At the railway yard, AFP reporters found fire crews extinguishing a fire left by at least two strikes that demolished an office, ripped up some tracks and destroyed two parked wagons.

09:08 AM

Norway sees no specific threat against its offshore oil sector, says PM 

Norway sees no specific threat against its offshore oil and gas sector following explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea and sightings of drones in the North Sea, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told news agency NTB on Wednesday.

The NATO country had not asked for military assistance from its allies, he added. 

08:56 AM

Ukraine says it will never agree to Russian ultimatums

 Ukraine has said that Russian-staged votes in four Ukrainian regions on becoming part of Russia were "null and worthless", and that Kyiv would press on with efforts to liberate Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

Urging its international partners to impose tough new sanctions on Moscow and provide Kyiv with more military aid, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine would never agree to Russian ultimatums.

"Forcing people in these territories to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun is yet another Russian crime in the course of its aggression against Ukraine," it said.

Describing the "referendums" organised by Russia as a sham, it said they had "nothing to do with expression of will" and had no implications for Ukraine’s "administrative-territorial system and internationally recognized borders."

"Ukraine and the international community condemn such actions of Russia and consider them null and worthless," the statement said.

08:45 AM

We expect Russia to continue their military sabre rattling, says Denmark

 Denmark's defence minister said on Wednesday there is reason to be concerned about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, highlighting the suspected sabotage on the two Nord Stream pipelines as the latest example.

"Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their sabre-rattling," Morten Bodskov said in a statement following a meeting with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

08:41 AM

Norway boosts security at oil installations after suspected sabotage on Nord Stream

Norway, now the biggest supplier of gas to Europe, will beef up security around its oil installations, it said following allegations of sabotage on Nord Stream's Baltic Sea pipelines.

"The government has decided to put measures in place to increase security at infrastructure sites, land terminals and platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf," Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in a statement late Tuesday.

The announcement came after three unexplained gas leaks, preceded by two explosions, occurred on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on Monday, as well as recent drone observations reported by oil companies around their platforms in Norwegian waters.

European leaders have blamed the leaks on sabotage.

After the drone observations, the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority earlier this week called for "increased vigilance from all operators and shipping companies on the continental shelf", noting that they could cause an accident or attack.

Concerns intensified after the spectacular gas leaks on Nord Stream's pipelines linking Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

08:38 AM

EU slams 'falsified outcome' of Russia votes in Ukraine 

The EU on Wednesday slammed "illegal" annexation votes Russia held in four occupied regions of Ukraine and their "falsified" results, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

"EU denounces holding of illegal 'referenda' and their falsified outcome," Borrell said on Twitter.

"This is another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systematic abuses of human rights," he said.

European Council President Charles Michel tweeted: "Sham referenda. Sham results. We recognize neither."

On Tuesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the votes organised by Moscow in the occupied Ukrainian regions as "a blatant violation of international law" which have "no legitimacy".

Kremlin-installed authorities in those regions are already claiming the ballots had gone Russia's way.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected on Friday to declare those regions annexed parts of Russia, coming under its nuclear umbrella.

08:27 AM

Ukraine can count on Italy, says new far-right PM

Ukraine can count on the support of Italy's new government, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni said in a message to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

She was responding to a message sent by Zelensky congratulating her on her Brothers of Italy party's historic victory in general elections on Sunday.

"We appreciate Italy's constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. We are counting on a productive partnership with the new Italian government," he had tweeted in Italian.

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been one of the strongest backers of EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, despite his country's reliance on Russian gas.

Rome has also sent weapons to help Kyiv fight off President Vladimir Putin's forces.

Meloni is Eurosceptic but has backed Draghi's line on Ukraine - even if her government allies, far-right League leader Matteo Salvini and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, have long had warm ties with Moscow.

08:22 AM

Kyiv urges 'significant' military aid boost after annexation votes 

Kyiv has called on the West to "significantly" increase its military aid to Ukraine after pro-Kremlin authorities in four Moscow-held regions of  the country declared victory in annexation votes.

"Ukraine calls on the EU, NATO and the Group of Seven to immediately and significantly increase pressure on Russia, including by imposing tough sanctions and significantly increase their military aid to Ukraine," Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement.

A volunteer mounts a rifle on a Soviet car Moskvitch for the Ukrainian military, at a factory in Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyi, Odesa region,  - Shutterstock  © Shutterstock A volunteer mounts a rifle on a Soviet car Moskvitch for the Ukrainian military, at a factory in Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyi, Odesa region,  - Shutterstock 

08:19 AM

Ukraine conflict in pictures

Anton Krasyvyi rows passengers across the Siverskyi-Donets river in front of a destroyed bridge, so they can visit relatives in Staryi-Saltiv, Ukraine, - Evgeniy Maloletka /AP 

Anton Krasyvyi rows passengers across the Siverskyi-Donets river in front of a destroyed bridge, so they can visit relatives in Staryi-Saltiv, Ukraine, - Evgeniy Maloletka /AP 
© Evgeniy Maloletka /AP

08:09 AM

EU eyes banning nationals from top jobs at Russia state-owned firms

Gerhard Schroeder, the former German Chancellor with close ties to Russia, could be forced out of his job, if Brussels bans EU nationals from holding senior roles in Russian state-owned companies, James Crisp reports. 

The EU is considering the ban, which is a German proposal and would need to be backed by all 27 member states, Bloomberg reported. National governments would name the individuals and enforce the rule. 

Mr Schroeder is chairman of the shareholders’ committee of the Nord Stream company. The pipelines suffered serious damage after suspected sabotage yesterday.

He stood down as Chairman of Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company, in May after months of calls for him to cut his ties with Vladimir Putin. 

He has become an embarrassment to his centre-Left SPD party, now led by current Chancellor Olaf Scholz, due to those links and lucrative jobs with Russian companies. 

08:01 AM

EU to strengthen energy security after Nord Stream incidents

The EU will step up protection of its energy infrastructure following the incidents that caused the leaks of the Nord Stream pipelines, Josep Borrell, the bloc's foreign policy chief, said on Wednesday.

"All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act," he said.

"We will support any investigation aimed at getting full clarity on what happened and why, and will take further steps to increase our resilience in energy security." 

06:28 AM

Russian reservists begin combat training

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that newly mobilised reservists in the Kaliningrad region have started combat training at the base of Russia's Baltic Fleet.

"All mobilised military personnel comply with the standards for shooting from small arms. In addition, citizens called up from the reserve restore their skills in the operation and maintenance of weapons, military and special equipment," the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

Courses have been also held to increase firing skills and prepare military personnel for "confident actions on the battlefield".

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's first military mobilisation since World War Two last week, which could see hundreds of thousands more people sent to fight in Ukraine.

05:44 AM

Slovakia's economy could 'collapse' over energy costs, says PM

Slovakia's Prime Minister said that soaring electricity costs had left the country's economy at risk of "collapse", the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

Eduard Heger said that the increase in prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine would "kill" the country's economy unless it received billions of euros of support from Brussels.

Mr Heger also warned he would be forced to nationalise the country's power supplies if this was not forthcoming.

05:23 AM

Canada promises new sanctions after 'sham' referendums

Justin Trudeau has said he intends to impose new sanctions on Russia over its "sham" referendums in occupied regions of Ukraine.

"Canada does not and will not ever recognise the results of these sham referendums or Russia's attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories," the Canadian prime minister said.

Russian-installed officials in four occupied regions of Ukraine on Tuesday reported huge majorities of votes in favour of joining Russia.

Justin Trudeau - REUTERS © REUTERS Justin Trudeau - REUTERS

04:50 AM

Why Putin would want to attack Nord Stream pipelines

The suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines could be a page ripped straight from Vladimir Putin’s playbook of panic, escalation and misdirection, James Crisp writes.

The former KGB agent’s illegal war on Ukraine resulted in unprecedented Western sanctions against Moscow. But the Russian president is confident that his people can endure economic pain longer and better than Europeans. His calculation is that soaring gas prices and the cost of living crisis in a continent hopelessly addicted to Russian energy will turn the situation to his advantage.

Read more: Why Putin would want to blow up Nord Stream 2 and the advantages it gives him

04:48 AM

Today's top stories

  • Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday accused of sabotage after a series of underwater explosions caused “unprecedented” damage to pipelines built to supply Europe with gas
  • Loyal Russian propagandists have issued a rare rebuke of Kremlin policy, attacking the mobilisation order which has meant even a reporter for state news has been turned away at the border
  • A Russian opposition activist was beaten up and raped by the police after he was arrested for reading poetry which criticised the Kremlin's puppet governments in Ukraine
  • New recruits to the Russian army are being told to ask their wives and girlfriends for tampons to use as bandages in the event they get shot, as military supplies run out
  • Nearly 100 per cent of voters in four sham referendums in Russian-held regions of Ukraine supported joining Russia, Moscow declared on Tuesday
  • Putin is expected to announce the accession of the occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the Russian Federation within days, according to British intelligence
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