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Ukraine round-up: Russian vote postpones and fresh gas fears

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Soldiers hoisting Ukrainian flag - reportedly over VysokopillyaImage source, K.Tymoshenko/Facebook

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Ukraine says this shows its soldiers hoisting the flag over Vysokopillya, around 100 miles from Kherson

Russian abandoned its plans to hold a supposed referendum on a part of Ukraine joining Russia on Monday, saying it was being “paused” because of security concerns.

The southern city of Kherson is the only regional capital captured by Russia to date in its 194-day-long invasion of Ukraine. Russian officials had planned to hold a vote on joining Russia similar to the one it carried out in Crimea in 2014.

But elections held in areas under military control by an occupying power would not be internationally recognised – as Crimea’s was not. Ukraine and Western nations denounced the plans as illegal.

In the end, heavy shelling made a key bridge impassable – leading local Russian-appointed officials to postpone the vote. But they did not cancel it completely – and similar votes are planned in other Russia-held cities.

At the same time, Ukrainian military forces seem to have made some progress on a counter-offensive in the region – apparently re-taking the small town of Vysokopillya some 167km (104 miles) north of Kherson.

Zelensky offers Truss a warm welcome

Image source, PA Media

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Mr Zelensky and Ms Truss pictured at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, weeks before Russia’s invasion

Mr Zelensky has regularly expressed his admiration for outgoing PM Boris Johnson and his government for the UK’s continuing military aid to Ukraine.

Speaking after the UK’s political leadership results were announced Monday, he said Liz Truss was “always on the enlightened side of European politics”.

“In Ukraine, we know her well…. I believe that together we will be able to do much more for the defence of our nations and the failure of all destructive Russian efforts.”

Russia says Western sanctions to blame for gas shutdowns

Image source, Getty Images

For weeks, intermittent shutdowns of gas supply have been blamed on maintenance or breakdowns. But after three days of the crucial Nord Stream 1 pipeline being shut for maintenance, Russia now says supplies won’t resume due to Western sanctions.

When asked if supplies would resume pumping if sanctions were eased, a Kremlin spokesman said: “Definitely”.

Russian journalist jailed for 22 years

Image source, Getty Images

We’ve heard much during the war about restrictions in Russia – with protests largely banned, Russian media sticking to the state line, and fines for criticising the military and the “special military operation”, which is what Russia calls the invasion.

On Monday, one journalist was sentenced to 22 years in prison for treason.

Ivan Safronov, 32, worked for the Russian Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, but left the media business to join Russia’s space agency.

It’s believed the charges relate to his news coverage of the sale of Russian fighter jets to Egypt, which sparked international outcry.

Artist whitewashes peace mural after outcry

Far away from the war, in Melbourne, Australia, an artist has thrown away hours of work after it was compared to Russian propaganda.

The three-storey mural showed a Russian and Ukrainian soldier embracing, in what the artist saw as a symbol of a peaceful resolution to the war.

But critics thought the piece presented a false moral equivalence – instead of Russia being the aggressor which invaded its neighbour.

Ukraine’s ambassador there labelled it “utterly offensive”.

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