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Kremlin in ‘sporadic’ contact with US over nuclear weapons subject after Washington warning

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KYIV:

The Kremlin mentioned on Monday it was in “sporadic” contact with the United States on nuclear points, a day after Washington warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow used nuclear weapons to guard Ukrainian areas it appears to be like set to annex.

Citizens in 4 areas of Ukraine had been voting for a fourth day on Monday in Moscow-organised referendums on becoming a member of Russia, a plan Kyiv and the West have branded a sham. They say the outcomes are pre-determined and they won’t recognise the outcomes.

But by incorporating the 4 areas – Luhansk and Donetsk within the east and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson within the south – Moscow might painting Ukraine’s efforts to retake them as assaults on Russia itself.

President Vladimir Putin mentioned final week Moscow was prepared to make use of nuclear weapons to defend any of its territory as he introduced a mobilisation drive that threatens to considerably escalate the seven-month-old battle in Ukraine.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned on Sunday the United States would reply “decisively” to any Russian use of nuclear weapons in opposition to Ukraine, with out elaborating. He mentioned Washington had privately advised Moscow “exactly what that would mean”.

Asked on Monday about Sullivan’s feedback, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned: “There are channels for dialogue at the proper level, but they are of a very sporadic nature. At least they allow for the exchange of some emergency messages about each other’s positions.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned he didn’t consider Putin was bluffing when the Kremlin chief mentioned Moscow could be prepared to make use of nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

Door-to-door voting

The exiled mayor of Russian-controlled Melitopol within the Zaporizhzhia area condemned the referendums – that are attributable to finish on Tuesday – as “a fake and a farce”.

Read extra: Lavrov pledges ‘full safety’ for any territory annexed by Russia

“The voting takes place in front of assault rifles, men with weapons… People are grabbed right on the street and are forced to vote not only for themselves but for their whole families,” he mentioned through videolink from an undisclosed location.

Fedorov additionally accused Russia of forcibly enlisting Ukrainian males in occupied areas into its armed forces.

“Today the situation is critical: our residents are scared, our residents are panicking, they don’t know what will happen tomorrow and when they will actually take our people away for enlisting,” he mentioned.

The governor of Luhansk, one other area Moscow goals to annex, mentioned Russian-backed officers had been carrying poll bins from door to door, accompanied by safety officers.

Residents’ names had been taken down in the event that they did not vote accurately or refused to solid a poll, Serhiy Gaidai mentioned.

“Representatives of the occupation forces are going from apartment to apartment with ballot boxes. This is a secret ballot, right?” Gaidai mentioned in an interview posted on-line.

The 4 areas signify about 15% of Ukraine. Russian forces don’t management all of the territory in these areas, the place combating nonetheless rages. They would add to Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014 after an analogous referendum there.

Ukraine, bolstered by refined Western weapons, has recaptured swathes of territory over the previous month, prompting Putin final week to order Russia’s first army mobilisation since World War Two to enlist 300,000 extra troops.

Protests

Kremlin spokesman Peskov mentioned on Monday Russia had taken no selections on closing its borders, amid an exodus of military-age males since Putin’s announcement, which goals to enlist some 300,000 reservists.

Almost 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland over the weekend, Finnish authorities mentioned, whereas Russian state media mentioned the estimated wait to enter Georgia hit 48 hours at one level on Sunday, with greater than 3,000 automobiles queuing.

More than 2,000 folks have been detained throughout Russia for protests on the draft, says unbiased monitoring group OVD-Info. With criticism of the battle banned, the demonstrations had been among the many first indicators of discontent because the warfare started.

A 25-year-old gunman opened hearth at a draft workplace on Monday within the Irkutsk area of Siberia, the native governor mentioned.

In Russia’s Muslim-majority southern area of Dagestan, police clashed with protesters, resulting in the detention of not less than 100 folks.

Peskov acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, saying errors had been being corrected by regional governors and the ministry of defence.

In a Sunday video clip, Zelenskiy addressed Russian protesters instantly: “Keep on fighting so that your children will not be sent to their deaths – all those that can be drafted by this criminal Russian mobilisation.”

“Because if you come to take away the lives of our children … we will not let you get away alive.”

Patriarch Kirill, the pinnacle of Russia’s Orthodox Church and a detailed ally of Putin, mentioned anyone who sacrificed themselves on the battlefield could be “cleansed…of all the sins they have committed”.

Ukrainian officers mentioned on Monday that additional heavy combating had seen greater than 40 cities hit by Russian shelling, principally in southern and southeast Ukraine.

Zelenskiy mentioned Ukraine had found two extra mass burial websites containing the our bodies of lots of of individuals within the northeastern city of Izium, a part of territory recaptured from Russian forces this month.

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