Russia vetoes UN Security Council resolution on Ukraine annexations
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Russia on Friday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Moscow's annexation of four Ukrainian territories. China, India and Brazil abstained from the vote, which came hours after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree incorporating four Ukrainian regions – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – into Russia. Read about the day’s events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times Paris time (GMT+2).
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9:43pm: Russia vetoes UN Security Council resolution on annexation
Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning its annexations of Ukrainian territory, with China and India abstaining.
Russia's ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, complained that it was unprecedented to seek condemnation of a permanent member of the Security Council.
Moscow's veto was a certainty but Western powers will be heartened that Moscow did not find support from Beijing and will now seek to pressure Russia through a vote of the General Assembly, which includes all countries.
9:20pm: UN Security Council meets to vote on resolution on annexation
The UN Security Council has started a session on Russia's annexations of Ukrainian territory.
Opening the meeting, US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on member states to act. "This is exactly what the Security Council was made to do. Defend sovereignty, protect territorial integrity, promote peace and security," she said.
"The United Nations was built on an idea that never again would one country be allowed to take another's territory by force," she said.
The resolution, co-sponsored by the US and Albania, would condemn the "illegal" referendums held in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine and call on all states not to recognize any changes to Ukraine's borders.
It also calls on Russia to withdraw troops immediately from Ukraine, ending an invasion launched on February 24.
The Security Council, led by France, went ahead with the session despite certainly that Russia – one of five permanent members – will veto it.
9:02pm: Ukraine reclaims village near Lyman
Ukraine says its troops have "liberated" a village near Lyman in the eastern Donetsk region, hours after Moscow-backed forces reported "alarming" news from the area.
The defence ministry tweeted a photo of what it said were Ukrainian troops in Drobysheve, some 10 km (six miles) to the north west of Lyman, which was taken by Russia in May after an extended battle.
Without unnecessary ceremonies.— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 30, 2022
81st Airborne Brigade liberated the village of Drobysheve, Donetsk region. The future of the world is no longer decided in the kremlin. pic.twitter.com/Twg8G3O01D
Lyman has been at the centre of renewed fighting since Ukraine routed Russian forces in the nearby Kharkiv region in a lightning counteroffensive this month.
The head of the Russian-backed administration in the Donetsk region said earlier on Friday that Lyman was "semi-encircled" by the Ukrainian army and that news from the front was "alarming".
In a message posted on Telegram, Denis Pushilin admitted that his forces no longer fully controlled either Drobysheve or Yampil, just to the south east of Lyman.
8:42pm: Russians losing ground on battlefield as Putin proclaims annexation
Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg explains that even as Russian President Vladimir Putin was announcing the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Russian forces were losing ground on the battlefield near the strategic town of Lyman in Donetsk.
6:50pm: France slams Russia's 'illegal annexation' in Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron "firmly condemns" the annexation by Russia of four regions in Ukraine, calling the move "illegal", his office said on Friday.
"This is a serious violation of international law and of Ukraine's sovereignty," the Elysee said after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation, adding that "France opposes this and stands with Ukraine against Russian aggression".
5:47pm: NATO chief, US national security advisor discuss Russia's 'illegitimate' annexation
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan discussed concerns over Russia's attempted annexation of Ukraine territory and the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the White House said in a statement.
"In the wake of the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, they discussed protection of critical infrastructure," according to the statement.
5:44pm: G7 foreign ministers reject 'purported annexations', vow economic costs
Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have slammed Russia's proclaimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions as a "new low point" in the war and have vowed to take further action against Moscow.
"We will never recognise these purported annexations, nor the sham 'referenda' conducted at gunpoint," said a statement from the top diplomats of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
"We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities – inside and outside of Russia – that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law," it added.
5:36pm: Ukraine says 'nothing changes' after Russia's annexation
Ukraine will continue liberating its territory occupied by Russia and Putin's annexation has changed "nothing", said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a Twitter post, echoing comments made in an interview with FRANCE 24 before the Kremlin ceremony.
"By attempting to annex Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, Putin tries to grab territories he doesn't even physically control on the ground," said Kuleba on Twitter.
"Nothing changes for Ukraine: we continue liberating our land and our people, restoring our territorial integrity."
By attempting to annex Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, Putin tries to grab territories he doesn’t even physically control on the ground. Nothing changes for Ukraine: we continue liberating our land and our people, restoring our territorial integrity.— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) September 30, 2022
4:30pm: US slaps 'severe' new sanctions on Russia after Putin's annexation
The US has announced "severe" new sanctions against Russian officials and the country's defence industry in response to the Kremlin's declaration that it has annexed four areas of neighboring Ukraine.
"The United States is imposing swift and severe costs on Russia," the White House said in a statement. It also announced that G7 allies support imposing "costs" on any country that backs the Kremlin's attempt to incorporate the Ukrainian regions.
4:21pm: Ukraine requests accelerated NATO membership: Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is submitting an “accelerated” application to join the NATO military alliance.
“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” said Zelensky in a video statement posted on social media.
It wasn’t immediately clear what an “accelerated” application would mean, as ascension to NATO requires the unanimous support of the alliance’s members.
“De facto, we have already proven compatibility with alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine – real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction,” Zelenskyy said. “We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance.”
4:15pm: Ukraine will not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin is in power: Zelensky
Ukrainian President Zelensky has said his administration will not negotiate with Russia as long as President Vladimir Putin is in power.
"Ukraine will not hold any negotiations with Russia as long as Putin is the president of the Russian Federation. We will negotiate with the new president," said Zelensky in a video posted on social media.
4:02pm: EU unveils stricter visa scrutiny for Russians
The EU has unveiled tighter visa requirements for Russians that would make it difficult – and, for some, impossible – to enter the bloc, except on humanitarian grounds.
The move comes as thousands have fled Russia – mainly to its non-EU neighbours – in an attempt to avoid the military mobilisation ordered by President Putin.
There have been splits within the EU over how to deal with Russian draft dodgers, with eastern bloc members bordering Russia taking a tougher line while Germany have tabled possible refuge.
The updated guidelines presented by the European Commission would subject Russians applying for short-stay Schengen visas to much tougher scrutiny and longer delays.
European border guards would also have more leeway to reassess already issued visas and reject or cancel them after fresh assessment.
The changes follow demands from EU member states along the frontier with Russia for an outright ban on visas for Russians.
Finland has already closed its border to Russians holding Schengen visas, which are typically issued for tourism purposes for a stay of up to three months in any of the 26 countries making up the EU.
The update focuses on "the security threat towards us" as Russia escalates its war in Ukraine, with the EU strongly supportng the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson told journalists.
"The security threat is real. The EU will protect itself and our citizens," she said.
3:44pm: UK's defence minister visits Ukraine to offer support
UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace met his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv this week to discuss the ongoing war and reiterate the ex-EU nation's support.
"The Defence Secretary met with Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov to discuss the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s ongoing offensive to recapture and liberate territory seized in Putin’s illegal war," said the UK government statement.
"The pair also talked about the next steps in the war as Ukraine battles to free itself from Russia’s occupation, and what further support the UK can provide," the statement added.
3:33pm: EU rejects Russia's 'illegal annexation' in Ukraine
EU leaders have declared they will "never recognise" Russia's illegal annexation of four more regions in Ukraine and have accused the Kremlin of imperilling global security.
"We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions," the 27 leaders said.
Their statement was released as Putin formally signed an accord that sees Moscow lay claim to the occupied territories.
"Russia is putting global security at risk," the EU leaders said, accusing Moscow of "wilfully undermining the rules-based international order and blatantly violating the fundamental rights of Ukraine to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, core principles as enshrined in the UN Charter and international law".
The leaders dismissed the "illegal" referendums staged by the Kremlin to justify its land grab and called on "all states and international organisations to unequivocally reject this illegal annexation".
2:57pm: Putin accuses "Anglo-Saxon" West of blowing up Nord Stream pipelines
Putin has blamed the US and its allies for blowing up the undersea Nord Stream pipelines, raising the temperature in a crisis that has left Europe racing to secure its energy infrastructure and supplies.
In his speech, Putin offered no evidence for the claim.
"The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage," Putin said. "It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organised the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines," he said.
"They began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure...It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it," he said
The US has said the explosions that caused the pipeline leaks were an act of sabotage, but has dismissed reports of US responsibility.
2:45pm: Putin slams 'imperialist' West, says it fears Russia
Putin has vowed to defend Russia's "homeland and values" and repeated a long list of grievances against the West.
The US and its allies are waging a "hybrid war" against Russia, said Putin. The "imperialist" West had broken its promises to Russia and had no moral right to talk about democracy, he added.
2:39pm: Russia is not seeking to revive Soviet Union, says Putin
The annexation ceremony in the Kremlin’s opulent white-and-gold St. George’s Hall is being attended by pro-Kremlin heads of the four annexed Ukrainian regions, which are not recognised by the international community.
Addressing the gathering, Putin said Russia is not seeking to revive the Soviet Union. He added that Russia would defend its new territory with all the means at its disposal in remarks that could signal an escalation in the conflict in Ukraine.
2:29pm: People of occupied Ukrainian regions are 'our citizens forever': Putin
President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia now has "four new regions" in a speech in the Kremlin. The people of the four Ukrainian regions are "our citizens forever" said Putin, calling on Kyiv to "immediately" cease military action in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Putin declared the annexations after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and unrepresentative.
1:55pm: Death toll in strike on civilian convoy rises to 25
The attack on a front-line civilian convoy in southeastern Ukraine has killed at least 25 people, officials say, updating an earlier death toll.
The attack took place on the outskirts of the city of Zaporizhzhia, in Ukrainian-held territory, as a civilian convoy was preparing to leave to pick up relatives.
"Twenty-five killed and about 50 wounded in an attack by the Russian military on a humanitarian convoy in Zaporizhzhia. Investigation launched," said the office of Ukraine's prosecutor general on Telegram.
Pro-Kremlin regional chief Vladimir Rogov blamed Ukrainian troops for the missile strike, accusing Kyiv of carrying out a "terrorist act".
1:40pm: Russian men flee to Turkey to avoid military draft
Russian men have been fleeing in large numbers since the Kremlin announced a partial military draft to sustain its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey, where some 50,000 Russian nationals have applied for residency since February, is one of their destinations of choice.
Our correspondents in Istanbul bring you this report.
1:15pm: Putin informs the Duma of plan to annex Russian territories
The head of Russia's lower chamber of parliament says Vladimir Putin has notified the house about plans to admit four regions of Ukraine into Russia – a technical step towards Russia's annexation of the territories.
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a key Putin ally, said on the Duma's official Telegram channel that Putin had informed the parliament of official requests by the regions.
Putin is due to preside over a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of the four occupied regions in the Kremlin later today.
11:55am: ‘Who Lost Russia?’ Tracing the breakdown in relations between Moscow and the West
Historians and international affairs experts have argued that Russia's war in Ukraine is the result of decades of history. Journalist and author Peter Conradi, who traced the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West in his 2017 book “Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War”, joins host Erin Ogunkeye on FRANCE 24’s Perspective to tell us more.
11:35am: Zelensky calls Russia 'bloodthirsty scum' after Zaporizhzhia strike
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia a "terrorist state" and "bloodthirsty scum" after the deadly missile strike earlier Friday on a civilian convoy in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Rescue workers say at least 23 people were killed and dozens more injured in the attack on a car market on the edge of the city of Zaporizhzhia.
"Only complete terrorists could do this," Zelensky said, adding: "Bloodthirsty scum! You will definitely answer. For every lost Ukrainian life!"
The convoy of cars was preparing to leave Ukrainian-controlled territory to visit relatives and deliver supplies in an area occupied by Russia, witnesses and Ukrainian officials said.
Police Colonel Sergey Ujryumov, head of the explosive disposal unit of the Zaporizhzhia police department, said the market was hit by three S300 missiles.
10:30am: UK 'will never accept' Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of breaching international law as Russia prepares to formally annex four occupied Ukrainian territories later today.
Truss criticised the Russian leader for showing "clear disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people he claims to represent".
"The UK will never ignore the sovereign will of those people and we will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as anything other than Ukrainian territory," she added.
9:05am: At least 23 civilians killed in missile strike, regional governor says
At least 23 people were killed and 28 wounded in a Russian missile strike that hit a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians near the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional governor has said.
A Reuters witness saw about 12 bodies, four of them in cars, and said a missile had left a crater in the ground near two lines of vehicles at a car market.
"So far, 23 dead and 28 wounded. All civilians," Oleksandr Starukh, the Zaporizhzhia regional governor, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians though its attacks have devastated Ukrainian towns and cities.
8:45am: Zelensky urges Russians to reject mobilisation, annexations
FRANCE 24's correspondent in Kyiv Gulliver Cragg has the latest on reactions from Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the Russian people to reject the Kremlin's mobilisation of military reservists and its plans to formally annex occupied Ukrainian territories.
7:15am: Russia set to annex four Ukrainian regions at Kremlin ceremony
Russia is set to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine at a lavish Kremlin ceremony later today that follows a threat by President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in their defence.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the annexations would be formalised at the ceremony and Putin would deliver a "major" speech.
The four territories – Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south and Donetsk and Luhansk in the east – create a crucial land corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Together, all five make up around 20 percent of Ukraine, whose forces in recent weeks have been clawing back ground.
4:25am: Russia says military campaign to continue at least until it controls all Donetsk region
The Kremlin has said that the "special military operation" in Ukraine must continue until Russia takes full control of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.
In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the military campaign in Ukraine would continue "at a minimum" until the "liberation" of the "Donetsk people's republic", referring to the region's self-declared, Russian-backed administration.
9:45pm, September 29: Biden says US will never recognise Russian claims on Ukraine
President Joe Biden has said the US will "never, never, never" recognise Russia's claims on Ukraine's sovereign territory as Moscow prepares to annex some occupied areas of the country.
Speaking to Pacific island leaders, Biden denounced the referendums that pro-Russian forces conducted in occupied areas of Ukraine as an "absolute sham", adding, "the results were manufactured in Moscow".
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)
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