Backed in a corner with this month’s successful Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin made allusions last week to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Putin’s veiled threat has prompted a mixture of warnings and posturing over the past 72 hours.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a weekend interview on U.S. network NBC that “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.” Sullivan added that the United States has been in frequent and direct contact with Russia to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as Putin’s actions and threats.
Meanwhile, when asked how Western leaders should respond if Putin ramps up military activity in Ukraine, British Prime Minister Lizz Truss said yesterday they "should not be listening to his saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians."
In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS network, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin’s threat “could be a reality… I don't think he's bluffing.”
Following Putin's comments last week, Zelensky said Russia was trying to use its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine as leverage. “He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail,” the Ukrainian president added. “I think the world is deterring it and containing this threat. We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue.”
Meanwhile, Japan has decided to ban exports of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia in an additional sanction against Moscow, said Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Monday. "Japan is also deeply concerned about the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine. As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in war, I would like to strongly advocate that Russia should not threaten or even use nuclear weapons," he said during a press conference.
Mobilization Update: 60,000 Crimean Recruits, Draft Centers Targeted By Violence
A mobilized man says goodbye to his family at a temporary mobilization station
After Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “partial mobilization” last Wednesday to bolster Russian forces in Ukraine, those eligible have not stood still — whether to flee or to join.
On the Crimean peninsula, for instance, the occupation administration mobilized 60,000 men into the Red Army, according to Ukrinform, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center.
Dagestan, a republic of Russia in Eastern Europe, meanwhile, was swept by a wave of protests, some of which were accompanied by road closures and clashes with the police. During a protest in the Khasavyurt village of Endirey, police fired into the air to disperse the protesters.
The Tut Dagestan telegram channel, without specifying a source, claims that 110 people were called up from the village, “including guys who recently arrived from the army.”
Draft centers have seen an increase in attacks as well. A gunman was detained after opening fire at a military draft office in the Siberian town of Ust-Ilimsk in Russia's Irkutsk region. In Uryupinsk, Volgograd region, the building of the military registration and enlistment office was set on fire, according to the local telegram channel Urupvest and Baza.
The mobilization would only affect Russians with previous military experience, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said 300,000 reservists would be called up. However, the decree itself lays out much broader terms, leading to fear about a wider draft in the near future. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Russians to fight against mobilization and not send their children to war.
Russia Says “No Violations” In Referendums, As Evidence Of Forced Voting Emerges
A voter casts a ballot in the village of Oleksandrivka during a referendum on joining Russia in the Kherson Region
Russian state news agency TASS reports that referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya regions of Ukraine on joining the Russian Federation have been held without violations and under Russian legislation.
The Russian sources also say the referendums, which began on Friday and officially end Tuesday evening, have already racked up 77% of votes in the Donetsk region and 76% in the Luhansk region. In the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, the turnout exceeded 50%.
And yet, numerous videos have appeared on the Internet showing that voting takes place in the presence of armed military personnel, who, together with members of the election committee, go around all the houses or find people in the streets and force them to vote.
Ukrainian Pravda writes that on September 24, the Mariupol City Council reported that pseudo-referendum in Mariupol, voting tables were placed directly in courtyards and squares. People wrote their names on white sheets of paper. There are military men with guns everywhere.
Far-Right Pro-Russian Protesters In Germany Attack Ukrainian Activists
People take part in a demonstration for the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin
In Germany, far-right forces protesting the closing of the Nord Stream pipeline attacked Ukrainian activists on Sunday in the northern town of Lubmin. When several Ukrainian women went on stage with a silent protest in support of Ukraine, the German demonstrators attacked the women, according to witnesses.
The German town is the final point of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream-2 gas pipelines.
Due to the increasing costs of living crisis, protests against Russian sanctions and rising costs are spreading through Europe. In Germany, sentiment is largely divided east-west: in western regions, the majority of the population supports the Berlin government’s pro-Ukraine policy, while more pro-Russian supporters in the east.
More Torture Rooms Discovered In Liberated Towns Near Kharkiv
Torture rooms found in the Kharkiv region
The Ukrainian military continues to find mass graves and torture chambers in the liberated territories of Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian Pravda has published photos of one such find in the village of Liptsy, where a torture chamber was set up in the building where the so-called "LPR people's militia" was stationed.
"Russian military illegally imprisoned local residents there who supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine and refused to cooperate with the enemy," the Security Service of Ukraine reported.
Testimony and evidence gathered found that detainees were subjected to torture, including electric shock, after which they were forcibly taken to the territory of Russia. In total, 11 such torture rooms have been found thus far in the region.
Two More Mass Graves Found In Izium, Body Count Rises To 436
Mass graves in Izyum
Two more mass graves have been found in Izium in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, after it was liberated from Russian occupation earlier this month.
According to Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, Ukrainian officials had completed the exhumation of 436 bodies from other mass burial sites in Izium on Friday. Most of the victims showed signs of torture and violent death.
"All crimes of the occupiers will be documented, and the perpetrators will pay for what they have done," Syniehubov said.
Yevgeny Prigozhin Finally Admits To Founding Wagner Group
Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin said for the first time today that he had founded the Wagner mercenary group and confirmed its deployment to countries like Africa and Latin America.
In a social media post on his company Concord’s channels, Prigozhin said he founded the group in order to send skilled fighters to Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014. “From that moment, on 1 May 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later acquired the name BTG Wagner.”
The military group has been suspected for years of carrying out the Kremlin's dirty work, though Moscow has always denied it. Prigozhin was accused by many Western powers and Russian media of being the financier of Wagner, whose men have been sent to Syria, Libya, Ukraine and the Central African Republic. The Kremlin has always denied having any links with paramilitary groups.
Prigozhin, a former gangster, was sentenced in 1981 to twelve years in prison for various thefts. After he was released from prison, he started his new life selling hot dogs and then opening a luxury restaurant, which is when he began to get to know the Russian President, and acquired the nickname "Putin's chef."
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters Hits Back After Poland Cancels Gigs
\u201cHEY! \u0141UKASZ WANTUCH, "LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!"\n\nCorrection Roger Waters didn\u2019t cancel Krakow Gigs.\n\nTo Nadeem Badshah at @guardiannews \nAnd Anna Piatkowska at @gaz_krakowska \n\nRead more: https://t.co/905kN3I53x\u201d— Roger Waters (@Roger Waters) 1664076697
Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has hit back after the Polish city of Krakow canceled upcoming concerts over his controversial comments on the war in Ukraine.
On Saturday, organizers of the Live Nation Polska and Tauron Arena Kraków announced the decision to cancel the April 2023 dates of Waters’ “This Is Not A Drill” tour. Although the venues did not elaborate on the decision, it is thought to be linked to frontman’s recent open letter urging the West to stop supplying arms to Ukraine for fear of “Throwing fuel, in the form of armaments, into a fire fight.”
Now Waters is calling out reports that alleged he was behind the cancelation, instead blaming efforts to declare him “‘Persona non grata’ because of my public efforts to encourage all involved in the disastrous war in Ukraine [...] to work towards a negotiated peace.”
Waters is no stranger to controversy, having previously been under fire for his staunch criticism of Israel over its occupation of Palestian territories.