KYIV, Ukraine — BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the 30-member military alliance has conveyed to Russia that there would be “severe consequences” if it uses nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
But Stoltenberg was non-committal on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s decision to make a fast-track application for Ukraine for NATO membership.
He told reporters Friday NATO leaders “support Ukraine’s right to choose its own path, to decide what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of” but that a decision on membership has to be taken by all 30 members.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s focus now is “providing immediate support to Ukraine.”
He also rejected Russia’s “illegal and illegitimate” annexation of four regions of Ukraine, calling it “the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the Second World War.”
Asked whether Ukrainian troops should refrain from attacking the annexed regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – Stoltenberg said: “they can defend themselves, they can also continue to liberate territory.”
Stepping back, he said, would be to “accept nuclear blackmailing.”
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BERLIN — The Group of Seven leading economies has condemned Moscow’s annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory as “a new low point in Russia’s blatant flouting of international law.”
The G-7 called the move “another example of Russia’s unacceptable violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, the UN Charter, and the commonly agreed principles and commitments of the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter.”
The group, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, said they “will never recognize these purported annexations, nor the sham ‘referenda’ conducted at gunpoint.”
The G-7 said it would impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities – inside and outside of Russia – “that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law.”
LONDON — Britain has imposed a raft of new sanctions on Russia, including a freeze on the assets of the country’s central bank governor, following the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also summoned Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin to protest the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The sanctions include freezing the personal assets of central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina, who has been instrumental in steering the Russian economy since the invasion of Ukraine and extending the ruble into Ukrainian territory under Russian control. She will also be barred from traveling to the U.K.
The U.K. is also working with the U.S. and other allies to prevent Russian entities from accessing a range of professional services around the world. British companies will be barred from providing services such as auditing, advertising, engineering, some types of legal advice and information technology consulting services to Russian firms.
Britain also imposed bans on the export of an additional 700 products to Russia.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has dismissed Putin’s claim blaming the West for damage to the Nord Stream pipelines conveying Russian gas to Germany as outlandish.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said “Russia’s disinformation” won’t distract the U.S. or the rest of the world “from its transparently fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory.”
Earlier Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built gas pipelines.
KYIV — Thousands of people gathered in Moscow for a concert at Red Square, celebrating the illegal annexation of Ukrainian lands.
Many waved large Russian flags as performers from Russia and occupied regions of Ukraine took to the stage to sing patriotic songs hailing Russia’s greatness.
Multiple Russian media reports said that people working for state-run companies and institutions were told to attend the concert, and students were reportedly allowed to skip classes so they can attend.
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is urging Western countries to stop Russia’s “aggressive imperial authoritarianism, endlessly inflicted by Russia upon itself.”
In an opinion article the Washington Post published Friday, Navalny wrote that if Ukraine wins the war with Western support, Putin “will vow to create an army so strong and weapons of such unprecedented power that the West will rue the day it defied us, and the honor of our great ancestors will be avenged.”
Navalny said Russian citizens should establish a parliamentary republic leading to “a radical reduction of power in the hands of one person, the formation of a government by a parliamentary majority, an independent judiciary system, a significant increase in the powers of local authorities.”
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is sanctioning more than 1,000 people and firms connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including its Central Bank governor and families of Security Council members.
Friday’s decision comes a few hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties absorbing occupied regions of Ukraine into Russia, in defiance of international law.
The Treasury Department named hundreds of members of Russia’s legislature, leaders of the country’s financial and military infrastructure and suppliers for sanctions designations. The Commerce Department added 57 companies to its list of export control violators, and the State Department added more than 900 people to its visa restriction list.
President Joe Biden said Putin’s actions “have no legitimacy” and that the new financial penalties will impose costs on people and companies inside and outside of Russia “that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.”
KYIV — Ukraine’s president says his country is submitting an “accelerated” application to join the NATO military alliance.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s statement Friday came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex occupied areas of Ukraine the he warned would protect using “all available means.”
Zelenskyy said “we are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO.”
The Ukrainian leader’s NATO application adds another layer of complexity to the seven-month old conflict that rapidly escalated following Putin’s announcement of annexing parts of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy also repeated his pledge to retake all Ukrainian territory now held by Russia which he said “feels our power.” He also said Ukraine is ready for dialogue with Moscow but “with another president of Russia.”
BRUSSELS — NATO was not immediately able to respond to questions about what Ukraine’s “accelerated” application to join the alliance would mean.
Ukraine is already considered an “aspirant country” for membership at the world’s biggest security alliance, along with Georgia. All 30 NATO allies would have to agree for the country to join.
NATO is wary of allowing any country to join when its borders and territory are not clearly defined. NATO’s Article 5 defense clause – the pledge that all allies must come to the aid of any ally who’s territory is under threat – would be compromised in the case of Ukraine, as its unclear what parts of the country would join.
Ukraine has officially applied for membership of the European Union but member countries have warned that it would take several years for the conflict torn country to be able to join.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s 27 member states say they “firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the illegal annexation” of Ukraine’s territory.
In a joint statement issued Friday shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin started the process of annexing four occupied Ukrainian regions, EU leaders said Moscow is undermining the “rules-based international order” and has violated Ukraine’s fundamental right to independence.
They added that they will never recognize the illegal referendums that Russia organized “as a pretext for this further violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official is urging the 27 member countries to clamp down on issuing visas to Russian citizens amid heightened security concerns over President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats and move to annex parts of Ukraine.
Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson called Putin’s actions “clearly an escalation and that means also an escalation of the security threat towards the European Union.” She urged EU countries to enforce more stringent checks on Russian nationals and deny documents to anyone who might pose a threat.
Johansson said that EU authorities must stop short-term visa holders from Russia from renewing them in Europe and that Russians who have fled the country should not be allowed to apply for visas abroad. She said that none of the measures the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, is recommending would stop Russian citizens from applying for asylum in Europe.
KYIV — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed treaties to annex occupied areas of Ukraine in a sharp escalation of the seven-month conflict.
Putin said during Friday’s ceremony in the Kremlin that he would protect them using “all available means.” At the beginning of the event, Putin urged Ukraine to sit down for talks but warned that Moscow would not give up the newly incorporated regions.
The ceremony comes three days after the completion of Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia that were dismissed by Kyiv and the West as a bare-faced land grab, held at gunpoint and based on lies.
The separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine have been backed by Moscow since declaring independence in 2014, weeks after the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The southern Kherson region and part of the neighboring Zaporizhzhia were captured by Russia soon after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament will meet next week to rubber-stamp the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.
KYIV — Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built gas pipelines to Germany.
Speaking Friday at a ceremony to incorporate the four occupied regions of Ukraine into Russia, Putin said that the “Anglo-Saxons” have turned from sanctions to “terror attacks,” sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines in what he described as an attempt to “destroy the European energy infrastructure.”
He said “those who profit from it have done it,” without naming a specific country.
Swedish coast guard on Thursday confirmed a fourth leak on the pipelines off southern Sweden, two days ater the first leaks to the Nord Stream pipelines that extend from Russia to Germany were reported.
TALLINN, Estonia — Belarus’ authoritarian president is rejecting the possibility that his country’s armed forces would become embroiled in the war in Ukraine.
Alexander Lukashenko said Friday Belarusians have never attacked nor posed a threat to anyone in their history and that “it will continue to remain this way.”
He said Belarus is “always committed to the peaceful resolution of any international problems” and that it’s “doing everything to stop the bloodshed.”
Belarus offered its territory to its ally Russia to invade Ukraine from the north, but Belarusian military have not been involved in the conflict. Military analysts worry that the Kremlin might force Belarus to join the war and deploy its troops to Ukraine – a prospect Lukahsenko has repeatedly and strongly denied.
Lukashenko met last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the seventh time in a year.
KYIV — Ukraine’s president says his country won’t give up on retaking all the regions which are now under Russian control.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on his Telegram channel Friday that Ukraine is in control of the situation and that “Everything will be Ukraine.”
Zelenskky discussed with Ukraine’s supreme military commander-in-chief plans for the liberation of Russian occupied territories.
He said Ukraine is supplying its troops with weapons and ammunition in the most combat zones.
KYIV — Donetsk’s Ukrainian governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says Russian shelling of cities shows that Moscow is lashing out because it’s losing ground on the battle field.
Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television that the shelling “shows the weakness of the Kremlin, which is angry and is taking revenge for the loss of military initiative.”
Russian forces have intensified shelling of front-line cities in the Donetsk region, killing eight and wounding 17 civilians over the past 24 hours.
KYIV — An analyst says the Kremlin’s hasty push to formally annex occupied Ukrainian lands aims to compensate for the fact that Moscow can’t do much to counter Kyiv’s gains on the battlefield.
Former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov told the Associated Press in an interview Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the the “independence” of Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions coincided with reports of Ukrainian troops encircling Russian forces in Lyman.
Gallyamov said Russia’s answer to Ukrainian gains “looks quite pathetic” as the Kremlin “is building some kind of a virtual reality, incapable of responding in the real world.”
He said although the Kremlin will try to put on a show of the illegitimate annexations, the Russian public understands that the battlefield dynamics are much different in Ukraine than they were in Crimea in 2014 and as a result, Russians will be less enthusiastic.
KYIV — Ukraine’s president has condemned Russian missile strikes that killed at least 25 people in Zaporizhzha and struck targets in Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk as the work of a “terrorist state.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on his Telegram channel Friday that only “terrorists” would target civilians and accused Russia of trying to seek revenge against Ukraine for its “steadfastness” and to make up for its own battlefield failures.
He said the “enemy” Russia “cynically destroys peaceful Ukrainians because he lost everything human a long time ago” and warned that the country would answer “for every lost Ukrainian life.”
Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s Office said another 50 people were injured in S-300 missile attack on a convoy of vehicles on Zaporizhzhia’s outskirts that officials said planned to ferry relatives back to safety from Russian-occupied territory.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office said four of 16 S-300 missiles that were launched had struck the convoy area, causing impact craters several meters (feet) deep near cars whose windows had all been blown out. Some of the dead lay on the ground covered by trash bags, blankets and towels, while others remains in their vehicles.
The missile attack came as Moscow prepares to annex four regions into Russia following an internationally condemned, Kremlin-orchestrated “referendum” vote.
KYIV — The Russian-backed separatist leader of the Donetsk region says Russian forces were no longer controlling the villages of Yampil and Drobysheve, southeast and to the north of the city of Lyman.
Denis Pushilin referred Friday to “worrying news” about Lyman itself, saying that it was “half-encircled” by the Ukrainian forces.
Pushilin was quoted to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti as saying that Ukraine’s armed formations were “trying very hard to spoil our celebration.”
KYIV– Ukraine’s military says Russia is upgrading military airfields, barracks and warehouses in Belarus, suggesting the country may intend to use them for renewed strikes on Ukraine.
Oleksii Hromov, deputy dhief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff said Friday work was ongoing at the Lunynets and Zyabrivka bases which are near the Ukrainian border. Iskander tactical missile units were also active in Osypovichi, about 180 kilometers from Ukraine, while Belarussian railways are preparing to transport troops.
KYIV — Ukrainian officials in the Zaporizhzhia region have declared Oct 1 as a day of mourning for the 25 civilians who were killed following the Russia missile strike on a car convoy on the outskirts Zaporizhzhia. lUkraine’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets also said in an online statement Friday there were no military facilities or equipment situated in the Zaporizhzhia area, “just cars and peaceful civilians.”
KYIV — Russian state media are accusing Ukraine of carrying out the Zaporizhzhia attack on its own citizens, without providing any evidence to support the claim.
Russian forces have repeatedly targeted Ukrainian civilians in the fighting since the war began in February.
KYIV — Russian-installed officials in the southern Kherson region said Thursday that a Ukrainian missile strike on the city of Kherson killed a deputy head of the region’s pro-Kremlin administration. A report in Russian state news agency RIA Novosti offered no details as to when the alleged strike took place, saying only that it hit the center of Kherson. Officials in Kyiv have not commented on the alleged attack.
KYIV — Russian and Western analysts say Ukrainian forces have likely encircled the Russian-occupied city of Lyman as Kyiv pushes on in an eastern offensive.
Lyman, a city some 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, had been a key node for ground communications and Russian military operations in the region.
Analysts said Friday it appears Russia faces a last stand with reservists and some tank units as Ukraine has cut off all routes out of the city.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, citing Russian reports, said the situation had become “extremely difficult” for the BARS-13 detachment and the 752nd Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 20th Combined Arms Army in the area.
If Ukraine takes Lyman, that allows Kyiv to push into Russian-occupied Luhansk, which just took part in Moscow’s internationally criticized, gunpoint referendums.
KYIV — The British military says newly mobilized Russian troops coming into Ukraine are poorly equipped with medical supplies.
The British Defense Ministry said Friday medical knowledge and supplies remain low, with some soldiers having to buy their own modern tourniquets. That mirrors videos and photos online suggesting some soldiers are being supplied with Soviet-era first aid kits.
The ministry added that the Russian troops’ lack of confidence in sufficient medical provision is “almost certainly contributing to a declining state of morale and lack of willingness to undertake offensive operations in many units in Ukraine.”
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote for Friday afternoon on a resolution that would condemn Russia for its “illegal so-called referenda” in four Ukrainian regions and declare that they “have no validity.”
The U.S.- and Albanian-sponsored resolution would call on all countries not to recognize any alterations to the status of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. It would reaffirm the U.N. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders.
The Kremlin has announced plans to move on annexing Russian-controlled areas of the four regions Friday, and Russia is certain to veto the resolution.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said earlier this week that if that happens the U.S. and Albania will put the resolution to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly where there are no vetoes.
The draft resolution, obtained late Thursday by The Associated Press, would order Russia to “desist and refrain from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
It would also demand the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine.
— Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine