Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine War

KYIV, Ukraine — The latest on the Russia-Ukraine War: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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GENEVA — U.N. human rights investigators say Ukrainian prisoners of war appear to be facing “systematic” mistreatment — including torture — both when they are captured and when they are transferred into areas controlled by Russian forces or Russia itself.

A monitoring mission set up by the U.N. human rights office says Russia must address such mistreatment that amounts to a grave violation of international law.

The findings emerged as the mission issued its first comprehensive look at rights violations and abuses committed by both sides of the war between Feb. 1 and July 31 — covering the first months after Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The mission, which tracks the situation daily, has been monitoring rights in Ukraine ever since a conflict involving Russian-backed insurgents began in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The foreign ministers of France and Ukraine have slammed Russia’s “mock referendums” in the occupied territories and Moscow’s escalating threats of a nuclear war.

Catherine Colonna of France and Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine spoke at a joint news conference in Kyiv.

Russia and its “unnecessary, illegal, unjust war, threatens the very foundations of the rules-based international order,” Colonna said. “France has been at your side since the start of the Russian aggression and will remain so until Ukraine recovers its full sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kuleba said the Russian votes about the separation from Ukraine and joining Russia present a “performance which won’t have any consequences and influence on the politics and diplomacy.”

He added that the voting shows Russia doesn’t wish a peaceful outcome: “Russia doesn’t want any peace talks; please, stop playing this game."

Colonna also announced the arrival of a new mission of French experts to assist in investigations in Ukraine of atrocities. Kuleba said the talks also focused on the transfer from France of more CAESAR artillery systems to Ukraine.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol who left the city after it fell into Russian hands says just about 20% of the estimated 100,000 residents still in the city have cast ballots in a referendum Russia has organized in the occupied territories in Ukraine.

Vadym Boychenko said many people in the Sea of Azov port city, which was the symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the war, have been forced to vote.

“A man toting an assault rifle comes to your home and asks you to vote, so what can people do?” Boychenko said. “Can it be a democratic instrument?”

Mariupol had a prewar population of 541,000. The Russian referendums are meant to show that the residents wish to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

“Can we talk about a majority?" Boychenko asked, noting that the majority of Mariupol's residents are in Ukraine-controlled areas after fleeing the Russian occupation. “You can’t call it a referendum.”

Boychenko said that Russian authorities have banned entry and exit from the city. He said that the Russians are planning to mobilize more than 10,000 men from Mariupol and urged local residents to try to leave it.

His remarks couldn't be independently confirmed.

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Facebook says it has identified and stopped a sprawling network of fake accounts that spread Russian propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine throughout Western Europe.

Facebook parent company Meta says the network created more than 60 websites that mimicked legitimate news organizations but parroted Russian talking points about Ukraine.

More than 1,600 fake Facebook accounts were used to spread the propaganda to audiences in Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Meta says it was the largest and most complex network linked to Russia that the California-based company has identified since the Ukraine invasion began.

The Russian Embassy in Washington hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

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WARSAW, Poland — Officials say a series of unusual leaks on two natural gas pipelines running from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany could be the result of sabotage.

The incidents overshadowed the inauguration on Tuesday of a long-awaited pipeline that will bring Norwegian gas to Poland.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says she “cannot rule out” sabotage after three leaks were detected on Nord Stream 1 and 2.

The pipelines aren’t bringing gas to Europe amid an energy standoff over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, gas still fills the lines.

No official presented evidence of what caused the problems. But in central Europe, where distrust of Russia runs high, there were fears Moscow sabotaged its own infrastructure to signal all pipelines are vulnerable to attack.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Analysts say two natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany are unlikely to be able to carry any gas to Europe this winter even if there was the political will to bring them online.

A series of unusual leaks have been discovered on Nord Stream 1 and 2, which run from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Eurasia Group analysts Henning Gloystein and Jason Bush, wrote Tuesday: “Depending on the scale of the damage, the leaks could even mean a permanent closure of both lines.”

They noted that undersea pipelines are designed in a way that they are not accidentally damaged, and that leaks are rare.

“Leaks of this size are a severe safety and environmental hazard, especially should Russia not stop pumping gas into the system,” the analysts said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says at least 11 civilians have been killed and 18 others wounded by the latest Russian shelling.

A strike on the town of Pervomaiskyi, in the northeastern Kharkiv region, killed eight people, including a 15-year-old boy, Ukrainian officials said.

Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said in televised comments that “the senseless shelling looks like an attempt to scare civilians.”

In the eastern Donetsk region, the Russian barrage focused on the cities of Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Toretsk, killing three and injuring 13 in 24 hours.

The region is one of four where Moscow-installed authorities are conducting referendums on making the areas part of Russia.

The Russians also shelled the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets facing the Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant across the Dnieper River, Ukraine authorities said. In the Kryvyi Rih, the hometowm of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russian cruise missile struck local airport, damaging its runway and taking it out of operation.

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BEIJING – China says the U.N. Security Council should help mediate the end of the war in Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin says the country is willing to work with the rest of the international community to deescalate the fighting.

Wang said: “China has always stood on the side of peace and has been committed to promoting peace talks.”

China has tacitly supported Russia’s claim that it was provoked into the conflict by the U.S. and NATO but has not recognized Russia’s territorial claims in Ukraine.

Wang said: “We believe that the Security Council, as the core of the international security mechanism, should make full use of its mediation roles entrusted by the U.N. Charter, follow the correct direction of ending war and promoting peace.

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MOSCOW – A top Russian security official has issued the sternest warning yet that Moscow has the right to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine if under threat, saying that the West won’t dare intervene.

Dmitry Medvedev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday said that “if a threat to Russia raises above a certain limit of danger, we will have to respond without asking anyone’s consent and holding long consultations.”

“And it’s certainly not a bluff,” he said.

Medvedev is one of Putin’s closest associates and is widely seen as expressing the Russian president’s views. His comments on Tuesday marked the bluntest official warning yet that Moscow is pondering the use of nuclear weapons to halt Ukraine’s push to reclaim Russia-held regions.

Kyiv and its Western allies have dismissed the Kremlin’s nuclear talk as scare tactics.

Medvedev insisted that the right to use nuclear weapons is in line with Russia's nuclear deterrence doctrine, which states such weapons can be used if the country comes under a nuclear attack, or in case of an aggression with conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence of our state.”

“Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use the most powerful weapon against the Ukrainian regime that has committed a large-scale act of aggression, which is dangerous for the very existence of our state,” Medvedev wrote on his messaging app channel. “I believe that NATO will steer clear from direct meddling in the conflict in that case.”

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Authorities are trying to determine the cause of mysterious leaks and pressure drops affecting gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The problems affecting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines came as a new pipeline meant to wean Poland and Europe off of Russian gas was to be inaugurated on Tuesday.

Neither Nord Stream 1 nor 2 was being actively used to bring gas from Russia due an energy standoff between Russia and Europe caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However both were filled with natural gas from Russia.

Officials said the leaks did not pose any threat to energy supplies given that Russian is not supplying gas through them, and experts said the environmental impact would be limited.

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KYIV, Ukraine — A planned speech later this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin may see him declare four occupied territories of Ukraine parts of Russia, the British military said Tuesday.

In a daily intelligence briefing, the British Defense Ministry said Putin will address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday and could declare the annexation of the regions. An internationally criticized vote is underway in the regions and ends Tuesday.

“Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict,” the British said.

“This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield (setbacks) and significant unease about the partial mobilization announced last week.”

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KYIV, Ukraine — The final day of voting began Tuesday in Russia-held regions of Ukraine. The vote is expected to serve as a pretext for their annexation by Moscow but is rejected as sham by Kyiv and its Western allies.

Security was tight in at least one of the areas where the voting took place: The Ukrainian military’s general staff said that travel in the occupied southern Kherson region “is completely closed for entry and exit.” It did not elaborate.

The Ukrainian military also claimed to have struck seven Ural trucks of the Russian forces in Kherson over the last day.

Tuesday marks the final day in the five days of voting. Authorities in the Russian-occupied areas had said they will open polling stations Tuesday after previously going door to door in some areas, trailed by rifle-carrying troops.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian air force’s anti-aircraft command says it has shot down four Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones in Odessa.

The Black Sea port city has been repeatedly targeted in recent days with the Iranian drones now being used by Russia in the war.

Ukrainian officials also said Tuesday that Russian rocket attacks targeted the southern areas of Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv overnight, damaging residential buildings and other sites.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces continue to make gains across the eastern bank of the Oskil River, a new front line in the war since Kyiv’s counteroffensive seized vast swaths of territory earlier this month.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, citing Russian reports, said the Ukrainian military continues to advance north of the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. Lyman has been a key node for the Russian front.

Ukraine “seeks to encircle Russian forces in Lyman from the northwest,” the institute said.

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The Associated Press