Key developments on Sept. 29
- Russia to formally annex occupied territories on Sept. 30
- Zelensky to hold emergency National Security and Defense Council meeting on Sept. 30
- NATO vows ‘united’ response on any deliberate attack on critical infrastructure
- Russia fires 4 missile strikes, 4 airstrikes across Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin will sign "documents" on formally annexing 15% of Ukraine's territory that his country occupies on Sept. 30, according to his spokesperson.
After holding sham so-called votings in occupied parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts, Putin is due to make a "substantial speech," Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Sept. 29.
Russia's rush to annex its captured territories in Ukraine comes as Kyiv threatens to retake them amid the ongoing counteroffensive, which led to the liberation of over 400 settlements.
Promising a robust response, President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an emergency meeting with his security and defense chiefs on Sept. 30. He said earlier that there will be no peace talks if Russia conducts sham referendums in four occupied regions.
"Russia will not receive a new territory of Ukraine," Zelensky said in his evening address.
Russia claimed that nearly 100% of those who were forced to vote at gunpoint favored joining Russia. There are an estimated 4 million living in the occupied territories, according to the Guardian.
The U.S. and the EU are expected to hit back with sanctions. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sept. 28 that the new package was designed "to make the Kremlin pay."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sept. 29 that the attacks on the Nord Stream pipeline were deliberate and would be met with a collective response.
"All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage," NATO said in a statement.
The offshore lines of the Russian-owned Nord Stream gas pipeline have sustained "unprecedented" damage and started leaking into the Baltic Sea, Reuters reported on Sept. 27.
CNN, citing three sources, reported that Russian navy ships were seen not far from the leaks, Peskov bluntly dismissed the claims.
Ukraine repelled attacks near 11 settlements in Donetsk Oblast on Sept. 29, according to Ukraine's General Staff.
Ukrainian forces have advanced west, north, and northeast of Lyman, and they are getting closer to recapturing the city, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S. defense think-tank, said on Sept. 28.
ISW said that Russia was increasingly concerned about Ukraine's gains, suggesting that "Russian forces in this area may face imminent defeat."
In the south, the front-line situation is "complex, dynamic, but controlled, and there weren't significant changes recently, the Southern Operational Command reported.
Casualties and attacks
Russian forces launched four missile strikes and four airstrikes across Ukraine on Sept. 29, Ukraine's General Staff reported.
In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko reported that an overnight Russian missile strike on a residential area in Dnipro killed four civilians – including an eight-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl. Five others were wounded, including another minor.
In the same region, Russian forces had also struck a city near Kryvyi Rih with cluster munitions, according to the official. The attack hit an undisclosed enterprise facility in Zelenodolsk, injuring 19 people, he added.
The same types of weapons were used on a public transport stop in Mykolaiv, killing two people and injuring 12, Mykolaiv Oblast Council Head Hanna Zamazeieva said.
In Kharkiv Oblast, Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on Sept. 29 that seven people were hospitalized due to Russian shelling near Kupiansk, located on the banks of the Oskil River.
In eastern Donetsk Oblast, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported that Kramatorsk was struck by a Russian missile early on Sept. 29, wounding 11 civilians and damaging a school, residential buildings, and hospital.
Kyrylenko urged the remaining residents again to evacuate, saying that the attack on the city "proves it is dangerous for civilians to stay in the region."