Monday, December 5, 2022

Ukraine war latest: Kremlin plans to hastily annex occupied regions as Russians rush abroad in wake of mobilization

by Asami TerajimaSeptember 22, 2022 10:14 pm
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Ukraine war latest: Kremlin plans to hastily annex occupied regions as Russians rush abroad in wake of mobilizationPolice detain a man in Moscow on Sept. 21, 2022, following calls to protest against the mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Getty Images)

Key Developments on Sept. 22

  • Russia attacks Zaporizhzhia’s telecommunication facility ahead of sham “referendums.” 
  • Russia launches 4 missile strikes, 17 airstrikes against Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces continue inflicting logistical damages in occupied Kherson Oblast.

Russia's hastily-planned sham "referendums" in occupied parts of eastern and southern Ukraine are set to start on Sept. 23, paving the way for illegal annexation. 

Ukraine and its Western allies have slammed Russia's annexation plans of Moscow-held territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

The G7 nations said on Sept. 22 that they do not recognize pseudo-referendums that Russia is planning to hold in occupied Ukrainian lands, warning to hit back with more "targeted" sanctions.

Russia doesn't have full control over any of the four regions, with only about 60% of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts occupied.

Ahead of the upcoming "referendum" set for Sept. 23-27, a Russian missile hit a telecommunication facility in Ukrainian-held Zaporizhzhia. Governor Oleksandr Starukh called the attack "Russia's preparations."

"(Russia) is trying to shut our mouth so (our) signals don't reach (occupied territories)," Starukh said on Sept. 22, a few hours after the strike. 

A day prior, Russia's President Vladimir Putin ordered a "partial mobilization" under which the Kremlin claims only 300,000 reservists would be called up.

However, according to Novaya Gazeta, the Russian government plans to mobilize 1 million people to fight against Ukraine according to a secret provision. Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov denied the claim.

Slovakia's Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad called Putin's address to the nation "pitiful" and said that mobilization "will end up in the overthrow of Putin as president of the Russian Federation."

Russian mobilization

The missing clause in the decree signed by Putin on Sept. 21 allows the Russian Defense Ministry to call up 1 million people, way higher than the initially announced number, Russian media Novaya Gazeta reported, citing a Kremlin source. 

Earlier, Kremlin critics have warned that this is, in fact, a general mobilization phrased differently. The decree is vaguely written with many ambiguities. Conscripts are tied to a military contract until the mobilization ends, but a timeframe is not indicated.

Young people detained at anti-mobilization protests in Moscow were drafted, according to Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov. He said that authorities began using mobilization "to put pressure on protestors."

More reports of Russians being conscripted following Putin's address came to light on Sept. 22, including a journalist in eastern Siberia's republic of Buryatia saying that her husband, who has no military experience, was drafted.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that Russians who don't want to fight should surrender.

"If you don't want to return to Russia, then, according to the Geneva Conventions and Ukrainian law, no one will transfer you back to Russia," she said.

Battlefield development

Meanwhile, Ukraine continues its counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast. The Southern Operational Command said the situation on the front line is "difficult, but stably controlled."

Russians attacked Ochakiv and Kryvyi Rih with Iranian drones. Russian forces used Shahid-136 Iranian-made kamikaze drones against the Ochakiv port infrastructure and a building in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Southern Operational Command reported on Sept. 22.

In the east, Ukrainian forces repelled an attack on Kupyansk in Kharkiv Oblast, which sits on the banks of the Oskil River, as well as two other attacks in Donetsk Oblast – one near Bakhmut and the other near occupied Donetsk. 

The General Staff said Russian forces continue to shell Donetsk Oblast with tanks, mortars, and artillery.

A Ukrainian soldier poses for a photo in front of a destroyed building in liberated Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, on Sept. 19, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

Casualties 

According to the General Staff, Russian forces launched four missile strikes and 17 airstrikes across Ukraine on Sept. 22. 

Life remains uncertain in liberated territories of northeastern Kharkiv Oblast. Regional police reported that unexploded landmines wounded eight civilians in Kharkiv Oblast, including two elderly residents in villages 50-60 kilometers southeast of Kharkiv. 

Also, in Kharkiv Oblast, Izium Deputy Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin said during a briefing that the destruction level in the liberated city is even higher than expected, calling the situation "absolutely close to apocalyptic." 

Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported that five people were killed and 12 others were wounded within a day. 

Overnight, Russian forces launched a missile strike on an enterprise in Kramatorsk and shelled an art school in Chasiv Yar near Bakhmut with cluster munitions, according to Kyrylenko. 

"Every Russian (war) crime (in Ukraine) is being carefully documented," the governor said.

Asami Terajima
Asami Terajima
National reporter

Asami Terajima is a national reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She previously worked as a business reporter for the Kyiv Post focusing on international trade, infrastructure, investment and energy.

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