Shelling hit southern Ukraine on Saturday night as Russia sought to defend its seven-month war at the United Nations even as it tried to escalate the conflict.
Kyiv and Western countries say referendums in territories forcibly seized by Russia are a sham intended to justify escalating hostilities with newly recruited troops, after battlefield casualties in Ukraine in recent weeks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the world press on Saturday, opposing Russia’s assault on its neighbor, limited to Washington and countries under its hold. Almost three-quarters of the countries in the assembly voted to reprimand Russia and demand that it withdraw its troops shortly after the February 24 invasion.
Kyiv and Moscow shared responsibility for the shelling in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region on Saturday.
Regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram that Russian forces launched “a massive missile strike” on the region from around 10 aircraft, injuring at least three people.
Russian news agency RIA, citing unnamed sources, said Ukrainian forces shelled a granary and fertilizer warehouses in the area.
Reuters was unable to verify either party’s claims.
Lavrov, at a press conference after his speech to the New York assembly, said Ukrainian regions where votes are being held would be under Moscow’s “full protection” if annexed by Russia, including including with nuclear weapons.
The Group of Seven industrialized economies said they would not recognize the results of the votes.
Ukraine has called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the referendums, accusing Russia of violating the UN Charter by trying to change Ukraine’s borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said. Foreign Affairs Oleg Nikolenko on Twitter.
Putin on Wednesday ordered the country’s first mobilization since World War II, an announcement that saw Russian men rapidly heading for the borders, with increased traffic at the borders with Finland and Georgia and a spike in ticket prices plane from Moscow.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested across Russia for protesting the plan, including 798 people detained in 33 cities on Saturday alone, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.
The frustration even spilled over into pro-Kremlin media, with an editor at the public news channel RT complaining that issues such as sending appeal documents to the wrong men were “infuriating people”.
When asked on Saturday why so many Russians were leaving the country, Lavrov stressed the right to freedom of movement.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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