Odesa bombed by Iranian drones – Kyiv

  • Ukraine says the southern port city of Odesa was hit by Iranian-made drones, two days after a similar Russian attack reportedly killed two civilians. Iran denies its drones are used in the conflict.
  • Ukrainian forces attacked areas around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant with eight “kamikaze drones”, Russia’s defence ministry says.

    Reports of explosions as referendums under way in occupied regions

    Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford says online reports suggest two explosions took place in the occupied cities of Berdyansk and Melitopol.

    “The Ukrainian government claims to have Ukrainians working behind enemy lines but it is difficult for us to verify this information,” Stratford said.

    He added that solid photographic evidence pointed to the Antonivskyi Bridge across the Dnieper River in Kherson being hit again.

    British PM Truss tells allies to stand firm on Ukraine

    British Prime Minister Liz Truss has said allies should stand firm on Ukraine, ignoring what she called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “sabre-rattling”.

    Putin this week ordered a partial mobilisation of troops and raised the possibility of nuclear conflict. Truss, who took office as prime minister earlier this month, said Putin was escalating his invasion of Ukraine because he was not winning and had made a strategic mistake.

    “I think he didn’t anticipate the strength of reaction from the free world,” Truss told CNN.

    “We should not be listening to his sabre-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians.”

    Russian parliament could debate annexation of occupied territories on Thursday

    The Duma – the Russian parliament’s lower chamber – could discuss a draft law formally annexing occupied Ukrainian provinces on Thursday, Russian news agency TASS has reported.

    Moscow on Friday launched a referendum in four occupied provinces of Ukraine that Kyiv and its Western allies see as a sham vote.

    TASS cited an anonymous source as saying the Duma could debate the draft law two days after the vote is set to close on Tuesday.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said regions of Ukraine where the widely-criticised referendums are being held will be under Moscow’s “full protection” if they are annexed, raising the prospect of the use of nuclear weapons if Kyiv tries to retake those territories.

    Queues build up at Mongolian border as people flee Russia call-up

    Long lines of vehicles have formed at a border crossing between Mongolia and Russia as people flee the Kremlin’s call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists for the war in Ukraine.

    More than 3,000 Russians have entered Mongolia via the crossing since Wednesday, most of them men, the head of a checkpoint in the town of Altanbulag told AFP.

    “Most of them are single young people who crossed the border with their parents,” Major G Byambasuren said. More than 500 were women and children.

    Russian nationals can visit Mongolia and stay without a visa for 30 days and extend their stay by another 30 days if needed, Byambasuren said.

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