Kyiv liberates villages as it edges closer to Lyman

DONETSK, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 27: People cast their votes in controversial referendums in Donetsk, Ukraine on September 27, 2022. Voting runs from Friday to Tuesday in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)  - Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
DONETSK, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 27: People cast their votes in controversial referendums in Donetsk, Ukraine on September 27, 2022. Voting runs from Friday to Tuesday in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) - Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukraine's armed forces edged closer to the eastern city of Lyman, capturing several surrounding villages in the Donbas.

Pro-Russian military bloggers warned that Kyiv's forces could soon cut off the only safe supply routes into the city, a strategic hub for Russian troops.

Ukrainian sources confirmed the capture of Redkodub, a village in the Donetsk region, some 25 kilometres from Lyman.

Rybar, a widely read pro-Kremlin military Telegram channel, said the Russian line of communication was "under threat of being blocked, as Ukrainian troops attempt to encircle Lyman from the west. 

Others said it was possible that Russian forces would surrender the town without Ukraine launching a direct assault on it.

The advance comes as early results from voting in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine point to overwhelming support for joining Russia, Moscow claims.

The first partial results show over 96 per cent of residents  in occupied Ukraine regions favour joining Russia, Russian state news agency RIA said on Tuesday.

07:10 PM

Today's top stories

  • Russia is concentrating men and equipment near its border opposite Kharkiv for a possible renewed attack on Ukraine’s second city, the general responsible for its defence has warned

  • European governments suspect Russian sabotage after three offshore lines of the Nord Stream pipeline system supplying Germany with Russian gas suffered “unprecedented” damage in a single day

  • A Russian opposition activist was beaten up and raped by the police after he was arrested for reading poetry which criticised the Kremlin's puppet governments in Ukraine

  • The United States and Nato will be too scared of a “nuclear apocalypse” to intervene in the war in Ukraine - even if the Kremlin fires the deadly weapons in Europe, Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev has said

  • Loyal Russian propagandists have issued a rare rebuke of Kremlin policy, attacking the mobilisation order which has meant even a reporter for state news has been turned away at the border

06:45 PM

Blasts near North Stream were explosions, not earthquakes, Swedish seismologist says

A Swedish seismologist said he was certain the seismic activity detected at the site of the Nord Stream pipeline gas leaks in the Baltic Sea was caused by explosions and not earthquakes nor landslides.

Bjorn Lund, seismologist at the Swedish National Seismic Network at Uppsala University, said seismic data gathered by him and Nordic colleagues showed that the explosions took place in the water and not in the rock under the seabed.

06:34 PM

Hungary top court orders politician jailed over EU spying for Russia

Hungary's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a former opposition politician to be jailed over spying on the EU for Russia while he was a member of the European Parliament.

The highest court sentenced nationalist Jobbik party member Bela Kovacs to five years in jail for espionage, as well as fiscal fraud and falsification of documents.

Kovacs, who is reportedly in Russia, was sentenced in absentia.

The charges, filed in 2017 against Kovacs, included "spying against EU institutions" and "engaging in espionage in the interests of a foreign state" between 2012 and 2014.

06:18 PM

Superyacht linked to sanctioned Russian sold for $37.5m in Gibraltar

A superyacht linked to a sanctioned Russian businessman fetched $37.5 million (£34.6 million) at auction in Gibraltar last month after it was sold at the behest of creditor JP Morgan, a court has confirmed, in the first sale of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The 72.5-metre Axioma was impounded by the Gibraltar authorities in March after US bank said its alleged owner, a company that was owned by Dmitry Pumpyansky, had reneged on the terms of a 20.5 million euro loan.

The Office of Admiralty Marshal, the branch of Gibraltar's Supreme Court mandated with conducting the sale in August, said an unidentified buyer had been selected.

The sale's proceeds - $37,500,055 - would go towards settling the ship's debts to creditors, and anyone with additional claims should come forward within the next 60 days, it said in a statement. The court would then decide what to do with any surplus funds, it added.

FILE PHOTO: The Axioma superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky who is on the EU's list of sanctioned Russians is seen docked at a port, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Gibraltar, March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo  - REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Axioma superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky who is on the EU's list of sanctioned Russians is seen docked at a port, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Gibraltar, March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo - REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

06:04 PM

US and Nato 'too scared of nuclear apocalypse' to intervene in Ukraine war

As the threat of nuclear action by Russia grows, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said 'demagogues across the ocean and in Europe' wouldn't react in kind. The Telegraph's Jamie Johnson has the latest.

The United States and Nato will be too scared of a “nuclear apocalypse” to intervene in the war in Ukraine - even if the Kremlin fires the deadly weapons in Europe, Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev has said.

In another ratcheting up of the rhetoric, Mr Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said Russia had the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons if it is pushed beyond its limits and insisted this is "certainly not a bluff".

"I have to remind you again - for those deaf ears who hear only themselves. Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary," Mr Medvedev said, adding that it would do so "in predetermined cases" and in strict compliance with state policy.

"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 said.

Read the full story

05:47 PM

Kremlin proxies claiming victory in 'sham' annexation votes

Kremlin-installed authorities were already claiming victory  in annexation votes in Ukrainian regions under Russian control.

"It's already clear that the vast majority of people supported the issue of secession from Ukraine and joining Russia," Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-appointed head of the Russian-held Kherson region, said on social media.

Election officials in Moscow said voters casting their ballots in Russia had overwhelmingly backed annexation, while authorities in Kherson and another Russian-occupied region, Zaporizhzhia, showed an initial 87 and 92 per cent backing for the move.

05:45 PM

Number of Russians entering EU jumps 30pc in a week, border agency says

The number of Russians entering the European Union has jumped following a partial mobilisation ordered by Moscow, said the EU border agency Frontex

Illegal crossings are also likely to increase if Russia closes its border, it said.

Following setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation, a move that sent thousands of Russians rushing to cross borders into neighbouring countries.

"Over the past week, nearly 66,000 Russian citizens entered the EU, more than 30% compared to the preceding week. Most of them arrived in Finland and Estonia," Frontex said in a statement, referring to the week from Sept 19 to Sept 25.

05:01 PM

US ready to support European partners investigating Nord Stream

Washington stands ready to provide support to European partners investigating the leaking Nord Stream pipelines, a US National Security Council spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Unexplained gas leaks detected in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines from Russia to Germany have prompted investigations by European countries into the cause, including the possibility of sabotage.

04:40 PM

Nato chief slams annexation votes in occupied Ukraine regions

The votes organised by Moscow in four occupied regions in Ukraine on annexation by Russia are a "sham" and "a blatant violation of international law," Nato's chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

Mr Stoltenberg tweeted that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "and made clear that Nato Allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine's sovereignty and right to self-defence".

"The sham referenda held by Russia have no legitimacy and are a blatant violation of international law. These lands are Ukraine," Mr Stoltenberg said.

04:20 PM

Would Putin really want to blow up Nord Stream 2?

As some countries in Europe suspect the damage to Russian pipelines may have been carried out my Russia itself, our Europe Editor James Crisp takes a look at how likely that is.

Vladimir Putin has a long and ignoble record of weaponising gas supplies to exert political pressure on his enemies.

His illegal war on Ukraine resulted in unprecedented Western sanctions against Moscow.

But the Russian president is confident that his people can endure economic pain longer and better than Europeans.

His calculation is that soaring gas prices and the cost of living crisis in a continent hopelessly addicted to Russian energy will turn the situation to his advantage.

But gas prices have been dropping for the past four days. After the news of the suspected sabotage to the pipes, they rose by 12 per cent.

Read the full analysis

04:06 PM

Swedish seismic network registers blasts near pipeline leaks

The Swedish national seismic network says it detected two explosions close to unusual leaks on two Russian natural gas pipelines running under Baltic Sea to to Germany.

The network said on Tuesday that it registered one blast early on Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm and a slightly larger one later that night northeast of the island.

It says the latter explosion was equivalent to a magnitude-2.3 earthquake.

Leaders of Poland and Denmark and experts have raised concerns that the leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline were sabotage.

03:49 PM

Holiday in Montenegro becomes escape from call-up for Russians

When Alexander and his wife Svetlana arrived for a two-week vacation in Montenegro, they planned to return home to Russia. But President Vladimir Putin's announcement last week ordering a mobilisation of reservists has thrown their lives into disarray.

Speaking to Reuters in Montenegro's Adriatic town of Budva, Alexander, 30, a horticulturist, said he had no plans to go back and risk being drafted to go and fight.

"This is not our war. We are attacking our neighbours, brothers, we are trying to occupy territories that are not ours," he said. "I definitely will not fight for that, let alone die for it."

Both Alexander and his wife declined to give their full names.

Russian officials have said 300,000 troops are needed for the mobilisation, called as Russia's seven-month campaing in Ukraine has stalled. Priority will be given to people with recent military experience and vital skills.

But reports have appeared of men with no military experience, or past draft age, receiving call-up papers, fueling outrage and anti-war protests.

02:39 PM

Norwegian gas pipeline opens in Poland after Russian cut

A new pipeline to carry Norwegian gas via Denmark was opened in Poland on Tuesday in a move to strengthen Europe's energy security after Russia cut off Warsaw's supplies.

The project is part of years-long efforts by Poland to wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas, which once represented two-thirds of its annual consumption.

This year, Russian giant Gazprom stopped supplies altogether after Polish gas operator PGNiG refused to pay its bill in rubles following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom has also cut off deliveries to other countries in Europe, upending the region's energy sector.

02:31 PM

Nord Stream 2 gas leak could continue for up to a week

Gas leaking from the damaged Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea will continue for several days and perhaps even a week, the Danish Energy Authority said.

Denmark's armed forces released video showing bubbles rushing to the surface of the Baltic Sea above the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, and said the largest gas leak had caused surface disturbance of well over 1 kilometre in diameter.

Vessels could lose buoyancy if they enter the area, and there might be a risk of leaked gas igniting over the water and in the air, but there were no risks associated with the leak outside the exclusion zone, it said.

The leak would only affect the environment in the area in which the gas plume in the water column is located and escaping greenhouse gas methane would have a damaging climate impact.

Danish authorities asked that the level of preparedness in Denmark's power and gas sector be raised after the leaks, a step that would require heightened safety procedures for power installations and facilities.

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm  - Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS/Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. 
Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm - Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS/Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

02:18 PM

Japanese 'spy caught red-handed' allegedly subjected to abusive interrogation

A Japanese diplomat that Russia claims it caught 'red-handed' spying allegedly had his eyes covered and was physically restrained during interrogation by Russian authorities.

Motoki Tatsunori, Tokyo's consul in the eastern city of Vladivostock, was accused of trying to buy classified information about another country cooperating with Russia.

Russia's FSB said the diplomat had been ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.

On Tuesday, Japan protested to Russia  over his detention, accusing Russian authorities of abusive interrogation and denying the allegations of espionage.

"The alleged illegal activity insisted by the Russian side is completely groundless," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

01:50 PM

Map: Latest update from the UK Ministry of Defence

01:36 PM

Europe suspects Russian sabotage in pipeline damage

Europe suspects Russia is behind the 'unprecedented' damage to Nord Stream gas pipelines. Our Europe Editor James Crisp has the latest on this story.

European governments suspect Russian sabotage after three offshore lines of the Nord Stream pipeline system supplying Germany with Russian gas suffered “unprecedented” damage in a single day.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the leaks were caused by sabotage, while Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she could not rule it out after three leaks were detected on the system designed to send gas to Europe.

"Today we faced an act of sabotage, we don't know all the details of what happened, but we see clearly that it's an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine," Mr Morawiecki said.

Read more here

01:27 PM

Moscow won't seek extradition of fleeing Russians

Moscow said it will not request the extradition of Russians travelling abroad to avoid being called-up to fight in Ukraine, after thousands of military-aged men crossed into neighbouring countries.

"The Russian ministry of defence has not sent any request to the authorities of Kazakhstan, Georgia, or any other country for the alleged forced return to Russian soil of Russian citizens, and it is not planning to do so," the ministry said in a statement.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13423577n) Russian men and women with their luggage walk along a road after passing through customs at the Georgia-Russia border checkpoint of Verkhnii Lars, Georgia, 27 September 2022. Thousands of Russian men left Russia after Russian President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation on 21 September, that he signed a decree on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation due to the conflict in Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said that 300,000 people would be called up for service as part of the move. Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said on 27 September, that in recent days some 10,000 Russians have crossed the border with Georgia every day. On 24 February 2022 Russian troops entered the Ukrainian territory in what the Russian president declared a 'Special Military Operation', starting an armed conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Russian men flee into neighboring Georgia following Russia's partial military mobilization announcement, Verkhnii Lars - 27 Sep 2022  - ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13423577n) Russian men and women with their luggage walk along a road after passing through customs at the Georgia-Russia border checkpoint of Verkhnii Lars, Georgia, 27 September 2022. Thousands of Russian men left Russia after Russian President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation on 21 September, that he signed a decree on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation due to the conflict in Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said that 300,000 people would be called up for service as part of the move. Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said on 27 September, that in recent days some 10,000 Russians have crossed the border with Georgia every day. On 24 February 2022 Russian troops entered the Ukrainian territory in what the Russian president declared a 'Special Military Operation', starting an armed conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Russian men flee into neighboring Georgia following Russia's partial military mobilization announcement, Verkhnii Lars - 27 Sep 2022 - ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

01:05 PM

Norwegian gas pipeline opens in Poland after Russian cut

A new pipeline that will carry Norwegian gas via Denmark was inaugurated in Poland on Tuesday in a move to strengthen Europe's energy security after Russia cut off Warsaw's supplies.

At a ceremony in western Poland, Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Aasland said it was "a milestone on the important path towards European independence from Russian energy."

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the pipeline launch "marks a crucial geopolitical step for all of us."

"We have to do all we can to remove energy as a Russian instrument of power," she said at the launch in Budno near the city of Szeczin.

12:54 PM

EU to sanction organisers of Russia votes in Ukraine

The EU will sanction organisers of the "illegal" referendums, senior officials from the bloc have said.

"There would be consequences for all people who participate in the illegal, illegitimate referendums," Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said.

Luc Devigne, a high-ranking official in Borrell's foreign policy service, said: "[W]e will put in individuals that are obviously linked to the recent steps with these referendums" in the sanctions package.

The EU's 27 member states are deliberating on fresh sanctions on Russia for holding the vote, widely dismissed by the West as a "sham".

12:40 PM

Russia wants to 'save people'  in the Ukrainian territories it holds

Russia wants to "save people" in the four territories it holds in Ukraine, said Vladimir Putin, people there vote in refereudums on whether to join Russia.

"Saving people in the territories where this referendum is taking place... is the focus of the attention of our entire society and of the entire country," Putin said during a televised meeting with officials.

Konstantin Ivashchenko (3R), former CEO of the Azovmash plant and appointed pro-Russian mayor of Mariupol, visits a polling station as people vote in a referendum in Mariupol on September 27, 2022. - Western nations dismissed the referendums in Kremlin-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine as the voting on whether Russia should annex four regions of Ukraine started on September 23, 2022. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)  - STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images
Konstantin Ivashchenko (3R), former CEO of the Azovmash plant and appointed pro-Russian mayor of Mariupol, visits a polling station as people vote in a referendum in Mariupol on September 27, 2022. - Western nations dismissed the referendums in Kremlin-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine as the voting on whether Russia should annex four regions of Ukraine started on September 23, 2022. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images) - STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

12:25 PM

Tens of thousands of Russians pour into Georgia and Kazakhstan to avoid army draft

Tens of thousands of Russians have poured into Georgia and Kazakhstan to avoid being called up to fight in Ukraine.

The Black Sea nation of Georgia said the number of Russians arriving daily has nearly doubled since Vladimir Putin announced the mobilisation on September 21 of hundreds of thousands of reservists.

"Four to five days ago 5,000-6,000 (Russians) were arriving in Georgia daily. The number has grown to some 10,000 per day," Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said.

Georgia and its neighbour Armenia, which do not require visas for Russians, have been a major destination for Russians fleeing since the war began.

12:16 PM

Putin expects 'record' 150-million-tonne grain harvest in 2022

Vladimir Putin said his country expected a record-high grain harvest in 2022 as Moscow blames Western sanctions over Ukraine for preventing its exports, especially to poor countries.

"The preliminary estimate [for 2022] already stands at 150 million tonnes, including around 100 million tonnes of wheat. This will be a record in the history of Russia," Putin said in televised remarks.

Russia's confrontation with the West has driven up global inflation and sharpened energy and food crises in many countries since the war.

12:02 PM

In pictures: Authorities crack down on Russians protesting orders for mobilisation

FILE Police detain demonstrators during a protest against mobilization in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (FILE Police detain demonstrators during a protest against mobilization in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (AP Photo, File) File)  - AP Photo
FILE Police detain demonstrators during a protest against mobilization in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (FILE Police detain demonstrators during a protest against mobilization in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (AP Photo, File) File) - AP Photo
FILE Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (AP Photo, File)  - AP 
FILE Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (AP Photo, File) - AP
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)  - AP Photo
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo) - AP Photo

11:49 AM

Germany raids Russian oligarch's yacht in tax probe

German investigators have raided a yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch suspected of evading taxes, laundering money and violating EU sanctions.

The public prosecutor's office in the western city of Frankfurt said more than 60 officers on Tuesday searched the vessel belonging to a "69-year-old businessman from the Russian Federation".

They did not name the suspect, but he is thought to be billionaire Alisher Usmanov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former president of the International Fencing Federation.

Between 2017 and 2022, the suspect is accused of funnelling several million euros acquired in illegal activities, including tax evasion, through an "extensive and complex network of companies and corporations", prosecutors said in a statement.

11:36 AM

Kremlin 'extemely concerned' about gas leaks

The Kremlin has said it is "extremely concerned" about reported leaks on Russia's Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe and its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2.

Danish authorities on Monday asked ships to steer clear of a five nautical mile radius off the island of Bornholm after a gas leak overnight from the defunct Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline drained into the Baltic Sea.

The German government said it was in contact with the Danish authorities and working with local law enforcement to find out what caused pressure in the pipeline to plummet suddenly

Asked by reporters whether it could be an act of sabotage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that at the moment "it is impossible to exclude any options".

(FILES) This file photo taken on August 30, 2022 shows pressure gauges and facilities to receive and distribute natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on the grounds of gas transport and pipeline network operator Gascade in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, close to the border with Poland. - Two leaks have been identified on the Nord Stream 1 Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, hours after a similar incident on its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2, Scandinavian authorities said on September 27, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)  - ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on August 30, 2022 shows pressure gauges and facilities to receive and distribute natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on the grounds of gas transport and pipeline network operator Gascade in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, close to the border with Poland. - Two leaks have been identified on the Nord Stream 1 Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, hours after a similar incident on its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2, Scandinavian authorities said on September 27, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images) - ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

11:18 AM

Nearly 2,400 people arrested as protests break out against military draft

Nearly 2,400 people have been arrested since protests broke out against Vladimir Putin’s military draft, according to the UN.

Voicing alarm at the scale of arrests, Ravina Shamdasan, spokeswoman of the United Nations rights office said: "We are deeply disturbed by the large number of people who have reportedly been arrested,"

Russian authorities have cracked down on criticism of the war in Ukraine, arresting thousands of protesters since the beginning of the conflict in February.

But the arrests have sky-rocketed since Putin announced last Wednesday a partial military mobilisation to bolster troops in Ukraine.

Ms Shamdasani pointed to "credible reports (that) some 2,377 demonstrators had been arrested... in various locations across the country".

10:38 AM

Russia's invasion has seen 'extrajudicial killings and torture'

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a report that it was particularly concerned about torture and ill treatment of detainees by Russian forces and affiliated armed groups, but said there had been rights violations by both sides.

The OHCHR also said it was "highly concerned" about the "enormous risks" posed by hostilities near or in nuclear power plants, and called for immediate steps to demilitarise the Zaporizhzia nuclear power station occupied by Russian forces.

Kyiv and Moscow did not immediately comment on the report, carried out between Feb. 1 and July 31 and based on work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. Both sides have denied allegations of human rights abuses.

The OHCHR said it was continuing to document and verify allegations of unlawful killings of hundreds of civilians by Russian armed forces in the Kyiv, Sumy and Kharkiv regions.

It said it had also documented at least six killings of civilians perceived as traitors for alleged collaboration with Russia in occupied areas.

10:07 AM

Ukraine tells Russian conscripts to 'surrender' to save their lives

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration, said that mobilised Russian conscripts should "surrender" to save their lives.

"The mobilized Russians who will surrender will save their lives. As to the rest, their odds will betray them," he said.

The number of Russians fleeing to neighbouring Georgia every day has nearly doubled since Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine, officials in Tbilisi said.

"Four to five days ago 5,000-6,000 (Russians) were arriving in Georgia daily. The number has grown to some 10,000 per day," Georgia's interior Minister, Vakhtang Gomelauri, said.

08:48 AM

Russia's Nord Stream pipelines leaking into Baltic Sea

Sweden's Maritime Authority has issued a warning of two leaks on the Russian-owned Nord Stream 1 pipeline in Swedish and Danish waters, shortly after a leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 project was discovered.

"There are two leaks on Nord Stream 1 - one in Swedish economic zone and one in Danish economic zone. They are very near each other," a Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) spokesperson told Reuters.

The leaks were located northeast of the Danish island Bornholm, the spokesperson said. It was not immediately clear what had caused the leaks.

"We are keeping extra watch to make sure no ship comes too close to the site," a second SMA spokesperson said.

08:32 AM

Kazakhstan vows to 'take care' of fleeing Russians

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the president of Kazakhstan, has said that his country will "take care" of fleeing Russians.

"Recently we've had many people from Russia coming here," he said.

"Most of them are forced to leave because of the hopeless situation. We must take care of them and ensure their safety."

08:08 AM

Medvedev: 'Moscow has right to defend itself with nuclear weapons'

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president, said on Tuesday that rhetoric regarding the use of nuclear weapons was "certainly not a bluff".

Mr Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also warned that Moscow has the right to respond "without much consultation", as tensions rise with the West over referendums held in large swathes of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.

Mr Medvedev has regularly issued aggressive statements on the West and Ukraine in recent months, underlining his transformation from an apparently Western-minded liberaliser as president from 2008-2012 to strident geopolitical hawk.

07:02 AM

Putin to address Russia's parliament on Friday

Vladimir Putin will address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday, where he may announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The referendums currently underway within these territories are due to conclude today.

"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 UK's Ministry of Defence said on Twitter on Tuesday.

"This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield sets-backs and significant unease about the partial mobilisation announced last week."

03:57 AM

Russians blocked from fleeing country by border guards

Russian border guards on Monday started blocking military-aged men from leaving the country as tens of thousands joined long queues to flee, writes Nataliya Vasilyeva.

The Kremlin insisted it had no plans to close the border despite reports in local media that an order could follow the ongoing sham referendums in occupied Ukraine.

Around 300,000 men have reportedly fled the country already, the same number as Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, said would be called up from military reservists to fight in Ukraine.

Satellite images released by Maxar showed a traffic jam stretching 10 miles from the border with Georgia.

Read the full story here

Drone footage shows long queues of vehicles on the way to exit Russia on its border with Georgia, in Verkhny Lars, Russia - Reuters
Drone footage shows long queues of vehicles on the way to exit Russia on its border with Georgia, in Verkhny Lars, Russia - Reuters

03:47 AM

Russia detains Japanese diplomat ‘caught red-handed’ spying

Russia has announced that it has detained a Japanese diplomat the Kremlin claims had been caught “red-handed" spying.

The diplomat was named by Moscow as Motoki Tatsunori, Tokyo's consul in the eastern city of Vladivostok.

He was accused of trying to buy classified information about another country cooperating with Russia.

In a statement, Russia's FSB security service said the Japanese diplomat accused of spying had been ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.

It claimed: "A Japanese diplomat was detained red-handed while receiving classified information, in exchange for money, about Russia's cooperation with another country in the Asia-Pacific region."

Read the full story by Nick Allen and Nataliya Vasilyeva here

03:32 AM

Today's top stories

  • Russia has announced that it has detained a Japanese diplomat the Kremlin claims had been caught “red-handed" spying

  • Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden

  • Kyiv has condemned reports that Ukrainian prisoners of war have been forced to vote in the referendums in four regions of eastern Ukraine on joining Russia

  • The Kremlin has admitted that “mistakes” have been made in its mobilisation drive, amid continued anger that led to a man shooting a military recruitment officer in a draft centre on Monday

  • Keeping Darth Vader’s voice alive is a real wheeze for Ukrainian AI

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky described the military situation in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region on Monday as difficult and said it was the country's "No. 1 goal" because it was also Russia's No. 1 goal.