Ukraine-Russia war latest: Nearly 100pc back annexation in sham referendums, Moscow claims

Ukrainian soldiers using a drone in Bakhmut, Donetsk region - AFP
Ukrainian soldiers using a drone in Bakhmut, Donetsk region – AFP

Nearly 100 per cent of voters in four sham referendums in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine support joining Russia, Moscow has declared.

The first partial results show over 96 per cent of residents in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are in favour of joining Russia, according to the Russian state news agency RIA.

The exercise paves the way for Vladimir Putin to annex the four areas, after which he could portray any Ukrainian attempt to recapture them as an attack on Russia itself.

Putin warned earlier this month that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend the “territorial integrity” of Russia if it is attacked by Kyiv’s forces.

Western governments have widely condemned the referendums as a sham and said they will not recognise their outcome.

Follow the latest updates below.

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.

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