US warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Date:

  • Fourth day of voting in referendums on accession to Russia
  • Ballot boxes taken door to door, Ukraine says
  • Moscow warned not to cross the nuclear line after Russian threats
  • Fierce fighting continues along the front line
  • Russians protest against military service

KYIV, Sept. 26 (Reuters) – The United States warned Moscow of “catastrophic consequences” if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine after Russia promised protection to Ukrainian regions it could annex after much-criticized referendums.

Citizens in four regions of Ukraine voted Monday for the fourth day in Russia-organized referendums that have labeled Kiev and the West a sham. They say the results are predetermined and even countries with close ties to Moscow, such as Serbia and Kazakhstan, say they will not recognize the results.

But by including the four regions — Luhansk and Donetsk to the east and Zaporizhia and Kherson to the south — Moscow could portray Ukraine’s attempts to retake them as attacks on Russia itself, a warning to Kiev and its western allies.

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US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States would respond to any Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and had made clear to Moscow the “catastrophic consequences”.

“If Russia crosses this border, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia,” Sullivan told NBC television on Sunday. “The United States will react decisively.”

Sullivan did not say how Washington would react, but said it had told Moscow “in more detail exactly what that would mean.”

His comments followed Wednesday’s thinly veiled nuclear threat by President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia would use all weapons to defend its territory.

Asked over the weekend whether Moscow would consider using nuclear weapons to defend annexed regions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian territory, including that “further entrenched” in the Russian constitution in the future, will be under the “full protection of the state”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he did not believe Putin was bluffing when the Kremlin leader said Moscow would be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

DOOR-TO-DOOR VOTING

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian-backed officials carried ballot boxes from door to door accompanied by security officials.

Residents’ names were removed if they voted incorrectly or refused to vote, he said.

“A woman walks down the street with what looks like a karaoke microphone telling everyone to participate in the referendum,” the governor said in an online interview.

‘Representatives of the occupying forces are taking ballot boxes from apartment to apartment. This is a secret ballot, isn’t it?’

The four regions represent about 15% of Ukraine, about the size of Portugal. Russian troops do not control the entire territory in those regions, where fierce fighting continues.

They would expand Crimea, an area nearly the size of Belgium that was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a similar referendum there.

The vote ends Tuesday and the Russian parliament could then act quickly to formalize the annexations.

Ukraine, backed by advanced Western weapons, has recaptured large swathes of territory in the past month, prompting Putin last week to order Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II to deploy an additional 300,000 troops.

PROTEST

The move has sparked protests across Russia and displaced many military-aged men. Nearly 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland last weekend, an 80% increase from a week earlier, Finnish authorities said Monday.

More than 2,000 people have been detained across Russia for protests against the design, independent monitoring group OVD-Info says. Because criticism of the conflict was prohibited, the demonstrations were among the first signs of discontent since the beginning of the war.

A 25-year-old gunman opened fire on a design bureau in Siberia’s Irkutsk region on Monday, the local governor said.

In the southern region of Dagestan, a Muslim majority in Russia, police clashed with protesters, leading to the arrest of at least 100 people.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy acknowledged the Russian protests in a video speech on Sunday.

“Keep fighting so that your children are not sent to their deaths – all those who can be called up by this criminal Russian mobilization,” he said.

“Because if you come to take our children’s lives—and I say that as a father—we won’t let you get away with it.”

Separately, Zelenskiy said Ukraine had discovered two more mass cemeteries containing the bodies of hundreds of people in the northeastern city of Izium, part of territory recaptured from Russian forces this month.

TO FIGHT

In heavy fighting, more than 40 cities were hit by Russian shelling, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

In the 24 hours to Monday morning, Russian forces launched five rockets and 12 airstrikes, as well as more than 83 attacks from multiple rocket-propelled grenades, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

In total, more than 40 settlements were hit by enemy fire, mainly in southern and southeastern Ukraine.

Two drones launched by Russian forces in Ukraine’s Odessa region hit military objects, starting a fire and igniting ammunition, Ukraine’s southern command said Monday.

“As a result of a large-scale fire and the explosion of ammunition, the evacuation of the civilian population was organized,” Telegram said.

“So far there have been no casualties.”

In countering Russian attacks, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 33 strikes and hit 25 “enemy” areas, the General Staff added.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the accounts.

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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Written by Michael Perry and Gareth Jones; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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