Europe

Ukraine war: Key developments to know about today

1. US warns Putin of ‘catastrophic consequences’ over nuclear weapons

The United States has said that it would respond “decisively” if Russia uses nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News on Sunday that Russia would face “catastrophic consequences”.

His comments came after Russia promised to protect Ukrainian regions it might annex following widely criticised “sham referendums”.

Citizens in four regions of Ukraine were “voting” for a fourth day on Monday in the Russian-organised polls in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. Images on social media show armed Russian troops going door-to-door to pressure Ukrainians into voting.

Moscow’s allies, including Serbia and Kazakhstan, have joined the West in stating that they will not recognise the results.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would use “all available means” to defend its territory including annexed regions.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he did not believe Putin was bluffing over his threat of nuclear weapons.

“Maybe yesterday it was bluff. Now, it could be a reality,” Zelenskyy told CBS News on Sunday.

Zelenskyy has previously accused Russia of committing “nuclear blackmail” by shelling near two nuclear power plants in southern Ukraine. Moscow has denied the allegations.

2. Growing protests against call-up of Russian reservists

Around one hundred people were arrested on Sunday in the southern Russian region of Dagestan during a demonstration against military mobilisation.

Videos on social media show women arguing with police officers, while some protesters were forcibly detained.

On Wednesday, Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” to add at least 300,000 troops to its force in Ukraine — the first such move since World War II.

The first batches of these troops have begun to arrive at military bases, the UK Defence Ministry said on Monday.

But the move has led to widespread protests, with many citizens fleeing Russia to neighbouring countries. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has also described the mobilisation as a sign of weakness.

“Keep on fighting so that your children will not be sent to their deaths,” he said in his nightly video address.

According to the NGO OVD-Info, at least 101 people were arrested by police over the weekend in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

The Muslim majority region has already paid a heavy human toll during the war in Ukraine. According to independent Russian media, at least 301 soldiers from Dagestan have died since 24 February — the most of any Russian region.

OVD-Info says more than 2,300 people have been detained at anti-mobilisation rallies in Russia since Putin announced the move.

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old man was arrested on Monday after opening fire at a military recruitment centre in the Irkutsk region of Siberia.

A military commandant was shot at close range and seriously injured in the incident, officials said.

“The shooter was immediately arrested. He will absolutely be punished,” the governor of the Irkutsk region, Igor Kobzev, said on Telegram.

“I am ashamed that such a thing should happen at a time when, on the contrary, we should be united, not fighting each other, but against real threats,” the governor added.

Russian media reports claimed the man walked into the facility saying “No one will go fighting”.

3. More mass burial sites discovered near Izium

Ukraine says it has discovered two more mass graves containing “hundreds” of bodies in the northeastern town of Izium.

President Zelenskyy said the find came after Ukrainian troops had recaptured the region from Russian forces earlier this month.

Authorities are already investigating after several mass graves were found in a forest near Izium. At least 436 bodies have so far been exhumed from the area.

The regional governor has said that many of the bodies appear to have suffered torture or violent deaths.

Russian authorities have not commented on Zelenskyy’s claim about the discovery of two more burial sites. Moscow regularly denies committing atrocities in the war in Ukraine or targeting civilians.

4. Overnight drone strike causes fire in southern Ukraine

Shelling in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Sunday night sparked a massive fire and explosion, Ukraine’s military said.

The airstrike — which hit a military installation — was the latest in a series of drone attacks on the key southern city in recent days.

Firefighters were struggling to contain the blaze, the Ukrainian military’s southern command said.

“As a result of a large-scale fire and the detonation of ammunition, the evacuation of the civilian population was organised,” it said on Telegram. “Preliminarily, there have been no casualties.”

Meanwhile, heavy fighting saw more than 40 towns hit by Russian shelling, Ukrainian officials said on Monday.

Ukraine’s air force also claimed that it had launched 33 strikes, hitting 25 “enemy” areas.

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