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Eastern Express 21.09

With the Kremlin’s blessing, Russian separatists have announced sham referenda in the occupied regions of Ukraine, in which residents will vote on their inclusion into the Russian Federation. The majority of the international community has already condemned the planned referenda and deemed them illegal.

With Ukraine swiftly recapturing territory in its northeast, from Russia, the separatist leaders of the Moscow-controlled Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared on Tuesday they are planning to hold votes later this week for the territories to be able to declare themselves as part of Russia.

Do the Russians truly feel so strongly about the Ukrainian counteroffensive, that after only 6 months they already want to hold a referendum and at such short notice?

Any declaration that the territory is part of Russia would not be recognised by either Ukraine or by the US and its Western allies. In fact, much of the international community would condemn such action.

Mobilisation announced

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday morning in a highly-anticipated speech that the newly imposed mobilisation would affect reservists and those who had previously served in Russia’s armed forces.

Could it just be that potentially Russia’s “special operation” is under threat?

The country is believed to have up to 2 million reservists, but only a fraction of whom receive regular training. The partial mobilisation decree might see some 300,000 former active units called into action against Ukraine. Lawmakers also voted to bring in a possible 10-year prison term for soldiers refusing to fight.

What are the possible scenarios, what should Russians be fearing in the coming days? Could Russian mobilisation be a real threat, furthermore does it signify an escalation? And how will the international community respond to all this?

To shed more light on the issue, we were joined by Oleksandr Khrebet, journalist at the Kyiv Independent.

What’s more…

-So far, at least 100 people have died as a result of deadly clashes on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Now both countries have decided to sign a peace deal.

-US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in New York with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the border clashes that led to the deaths of more than 200 people.

-The Ukrainian forces have achieved further success in expelling Russian troops from the country. However, in order to accelerate the pace of movement of Ukrainian troops, it is necessary to see an increase with the pace of aid provided by NATO countries.

-On Wednesday, a space mission organised in joint cooperation between NASA and the Russian space agency will be launched.

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