Here is the situation as it stands on Friday, September 23.
- Four areas of Ukraine controlled by Russia and pro-Moscow forces held referendums on Friday on joining Russia, a move widely condemned by the West as illegitimate and a precursor to illegal annexation.
- Voting in the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces, representing about 15 percent of Ukrainian territory, runs from Friday to Tuesday. Incorporating the four areas into Russia, Moscow could justify military escalation as necessary to defend its territory.
- World leaders gathering at the United Nations General Assembly in New York called for Russia to be held accountable for human rights violations in Ukraine.
- Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov defended the “special military operation” and accused Ukraine of committing atrocities.
- Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said any weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used to defend territory incorporated into Russia from Ukraine.
- Some draft-age Russians headed abroad to escape their country’s biggest conscription drive since World War II. Prices for air tickets from Moscow skyrocketed. The Kremlin said the reports of an exodus were “exaggerated”.
- Russia’s military said some 10,000 volunteers had enlisted without even waiting for their call-up papers.
- At least 1,300 protesters against the draft were detained and some were handed enlistment papers while in custody, a rights group said.
- Russian-installed separatists said at least six civilians were killed and six wounded in a missile strike on a market in central Donetsk.
- Russian forces attacked several towns including Zaporizhzhia, which was hit by about 10 shells, said regional governor Oleksander Starukh. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
- The Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said Russian mortar rounds killed two people and wounded six in Toretsk town in Donetsk.
- In the Russian-held southern city of Melitopol, a blast hit a crowded market. The city’s exiled mayor said it killed three soldiers.