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U.S. warns of ‘horrific’ consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Milley speaks with his Ukrainian counterpart to reaffirm U.S. commitment

US Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds a press briefing about the US military drawdown in Afghanistan, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC September 1, 2021.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart by phone, according to a Pentagon readout of the call.

“They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments. The Chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Joint Staff spokesman Col. Dave Butler wrote in a statement on Milley’s call with Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny.

— Amanda Macias

Four vessels to depart Ukraine carrying 72,043 metric tons of agricultural products

An aerial view of Barbados flagged “Fulmar S” named empty grain ship as Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkiye and the United Nations (UN) of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) conduct inspection on vessel in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 05, 2022.

Islam Yakut | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said it has approved four vessels to leave the besieged country.

The Joint Coordination Center, an initiative of Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said that the vessels are carrying a total of 72,043 metric tons of grain and other food products.

Two ships from Odesa are destined for Turkey and are carrying corn and sunflower oil. Another ship will depart from Ukraine’s Yuzhny-Pivdennyi port for the Netherlands and is carrying corn. The fourth vessel will sail from Odesa to Spain and is carrying sunflower oil.

— Amanda Macias

Putin grants Russian citizenship to former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks live from Russia during the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal on November 4, 2019.

Pedro Fiúza | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Netherlands will increase military support to Ukraine, PM says

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, pictured here attending a press conference on March 23 2020, argued that there is a “limit to what a government can do” to help with inflation.

SOPA Images

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that his country will increase its support to Ukraine while also backing new sanctions against Russia.

“More weapons, more sanctions, more isolation of Russia,” Rutte wrote on Twitter.

“Because of Russia’s mobilization and mock referendums. Protecting Europe is crucial to our security,” he added.

Rutte also said that he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the additional support the Netherlands is expected to provide.

— Amanda Macias

Senior Russian lawmakers express concern over Putin’s mobilization as thousands attempt to flee the country

People carrying luggage walk past vehicles with Russian license plates on the Russian side of the border towards the Nizhniy Lars customs checkpoint between Georgia and Russia some 25 km outside the town of Vladikavkaz, on September 25, 2022.

– | Afp | Getty Images

Amid increasing public anger about Russia’s mobilization drive, two of the country’s most senior lawmakers ordered regional officials to solve the “excesses” that have stoked protests and seen flocks of military-age men attempt to flee.

Valentina Matviyenko and Vyacheslav Volodin both took to the Telegram messaging app to address what they said were the many complaints from the public about the mistakes that were made when recruiting civilians into the military.

“Appeals are coming in,” Volodin, speaker of the Duma, Russia’s lower chamber of Parliament, said in a post Sunday. “Each case should be dealt with separately. If a mistake is made, it must be corrected,” he said.

“All levels of government must understand their responsibility,” he added.

Videos posted to social media have also shown arguments between military recruiters and reservists, as well as members of the public, prompting even ultra-loyal pro-Kremlin figures to publicly express concern.

Read the full story from NBC News.

More than 7.4 million Ukrainians have become refugees from Russia’s war

Children who fled the war in Ukraine rests inside a temporary refugee shelter that was an abandoned TESCO supermarket after being transported from the Polish Ukrainian border on March 08, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland.

Omar Marques | Getty Images

More than 7.4 million Ukrainians have become refugees and moved to neighboring countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates.

More than 4.1 million of those people have applied for temporary resident status in neighboring Western countries, according to data collected by the agency.

“The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” the U.N. Refugee Agency wrote.

— Amanda Macias

UN says nearly 6,000 killed in Ukraine since start of war

This photograph taken on September 25, 2022, shows empty graves after exhumation of bodies in the mass grave created during the Russian’s occupation in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

The United Nations has confirmed 5,996 civilian deaths and 8,848 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because the armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken announces more than $450 million for Ukrainian law enforcement and criminal justice programs

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional $457.5 million aimed at supporting Ukrainian law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.

“In addition to expanding our direct assistance to Ukrainian law enforcement, a portion of this new assistance will also continue U.S. support for the Ukrainian government’s efforts to document, investigate, and prosecute atrocities perpetrated by Russia’s forces, drawing on our long-standing relationship with Ukrainian criminal justice agencies, including the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General and the NPU’s war crimes unit,” Blinken wrote in a statement.

The $457.5 million brings U.S. commitment to more than $645 million since December.

— Amanda Macias

The Kremlin says it is in sporadic contact with Washington over nuclear issues

The St. Basil Cathedral and a Kremlin tower are visible on the Red Square in Moscow.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The Kremlin said it was in “sporadic” contact with Washington on nuclear issues after the two traded threats concerning the use of nuclear weapons, Reuters reported.

Washington over the weekend warned of “horrific consequences” and a decisive U.S. response if Putin were to make good on his threat of using nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory. That territory, in Putin’s eyes, may soon include areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, where Moscow is now staging highly-criticized referendums to join the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian and Western officials are deriding the votes as a sham with a pre-determined outcome in favor of Russia, which they warn could give Putin a pretext to use nuclear weapons in order to attack forces trying to retake them for Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Orthodox Jews flock to Ukraine for Jewish New Year despite warnings

Thousands of Orthodox Jewish pilgrims traveled to Ukraine to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, despite safety warnings not to do so from both Israeli and Ukrainian governments.

The pilgrims descended upon the town of Uman in central Ukraine where a highly respected rabbi, Nachman of Breslov, was buried in 1810. Hasidic Jews have been making the annual pilgrimage since 1991, when the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s subsequent independence made the religious celebration more accessible to foreigners.

Orthodox Jewish pilgrims on the street near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman while celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, amid Russia continues the war in Ukraine. Uman, Ukraine, September 25, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Orthodox Jewish pilgrims celebrate near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman while celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, amid Russia continues the war in Ukraine. Uman, Ukraine, September 25, 2022 

Maxym Marusenko/ | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Orthodox Jewish pilgrims pray near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman while celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, amid Russia continues the war in Ukraine. Uman, Ukraine, September 25, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Orthodox Jewish pilgrims celebrate near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman while celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, amid Russia continues the war in Ukraine. Uman, Ukraine, September 25, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims celebrate the Rosh Hashanah holiday, the Jewish New Year, at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Uman, Ukraine September 25, 2022. 

Vladyslav Musiienko | Reuters

— Natasha Turak, Getty Images, Reuters

Russian stocks sink to February lows

Russian stocks fell sharply on Monday to reach their lowest point since Feb. 24, the day the first Russian troops entered Ukraine.

The MOEX Russia Index was down 6.9% by early afternoon in Europe, having fallen as much as 7.4% earlier in the session.

Markets in Moscow have been in general decline since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization last week, setting the Russian economy on a war footing and likely prolonging the conflict in Ukraine.

– Elliot Smith

Gunman detained after shooting military draft officer in Siberia

A gunman has been detained after opening fire at a Russian military draft office in the Siberian town of Ust-Ilimsk.

A man who identified himself to police as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin shot the manager of the draft office at point-blank range, Reuters reported, citing videos of the event published on social media. Reuters and CNBC were not able to independently verify the videos.

The head of the draft office was taken to the hospital and is in critical condition, Irkutsk regional governor Igor Kobzev wrote on the Telegram, adding that the shooter “will absolutely be punished.”

Reuters also reported a man attempting to set himself on fire at a bus station in Ryazan, a city south of Moscow, “shouting that he did not want to fight in Ukraine,” the wire service wrote. He was picked up by an ambulance.

Acts of protest against the Kremlin’s order for “partial mobilization” have been recorded in numerous parts of Russia, with at least 2,000 protesters arrested and long lines of cars forming at borders of Russian men trying to leave the country. Draftees are being overwhelmingly taken from Russia’s poorer and more remote areas like Yakutia, in eastern Siberia, and Dagestan, in the Caucuses.

— Natasha Turak

Russian state media reports high turnout in occupied territory referendums

Residents cast their votes in controversial referendums in the city of Dokuchaievsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on September 23, 2022. Voting will run from Friday to Tuesday in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia.

Leon Klein | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian state news agency RIA has reported turnout levels in the Russian-controlled “referendums” in four of Ukraine’s occupied territories. It said that turnout for the votes so far ranged from 49% in the southern Kherson region to 77% in the eastern Donetsk oblast.

The announced figures are high enough that Moscow will likely deem the results legitimate, although numerous reports and videos have surfaced of people being forced to vote and votes being staged. Voting began on Friday and will run until Tuesday.

Ukrainian and international governments have roundly condemned the referendums, calling them a “sham” and refusing to recognize the results, which they say will be rigged in Russia’s favor.

— Natasha Turak

‘I don’t think he’s bluffing’: Zelenskyy on Putin’s ‘nuclear blackmail’

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pictured during his regular address to the nation, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.

Ukrinform | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a sobering assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning last week that he would use all means at his disposal, widely read as a nod to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, to defend Russian territories.

Russia using nuclear weapons “could be a reality,” Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail. I don’t think he’s bluffing,” Zelenskyy said.

A Russian-led referendum is underway in the Ukrainian territories that have been occupied by Russia since its invasion in February. Western and Ukrainian governments reject its legitimacy as a sham. But many worry that if Moscow annexes the territories based on the results, those lands will be included in the territory that Putin views as worthy of a potential nuclear response if attacked by Ukrainian forces trying to recapture them.

Ukraine’s nuclear energy body says Russian forces are staging referendum votes in Zaporizhzhia

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, is accusing Russian forces of staging referendum votes to make it look like staff of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, have cast their ballots in the Russian-controlled contest.

“They staged another performance near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, pretending to be the staff of the nuclear plant as invited mobsters,” Energoatam wrote in a Telegram post.

“A large group of men in civilian clothes waited for the end of the shift at the station and mingled with its staff who were leaving after the shift. Along the way, those lined up gave interviews to pro-Russian propaganda media and shouted words of support for Russia and the pseudo-referendum, after which they went to the bus in which the “voting” was held and demonstratively filled out the ballots.”

The post added, “This fact once again proves that among the patriotic workers of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, no one volunteered to participate in the occupying farce, so the propagandists were once again forced to make a ‘good’ picture for Russian customers.”

A. Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022.


Zaporizhzhia, in southeastern Ukraine, has been under Russian occupation since March.

Voting in the so-called referendum has been underway since Friday, under the control of Russian forces, on whether the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson will join the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian and Western officials reject any legitimacy of the referendums, saying they are a sham to justify Russian annexation of the territories, and reports have emerged of armed Russian troops going door-to-door and forcing people to vote.

— Natasha Turak

Anti-mobilization protests in Russia continue, many arrested: Reports

A female activist holds an anti-war poster as other protesters shout slogan during an unsanctioned protest rally at Arbat street on Sept. 21, 2022, in Moscow, Russia. The sign reads, “Army to the barracks, godfather to prison.”

Getty Images

Protests against Russia’s “partial mobilization” drive are taking place around the country, with reports and videos on social media of clashes between people and police in the Russian republic of Dagestan.

At least 100 people there have been arrested in the regional capital of Makhachkala, according to OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights group. CNBC has not been able to independently verify the numbers.

Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim region in the mountainous Russian Caucasus, and is overwhelmingly poor. The province has suffered the highest death toll among its troops sent to fight in Ukraine than any other Russian province, the BBC reported.

At least 2,000 people have been arrested in anti-mobilization protests since Wednesday. Putin has said that 300,000 military reservists will be called up for what he still calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

First troops in Russia’s ‘partial mobilization’ wave arrive at bases

The first troops in Russia’s “partial mobilization” wave have started arriving at military bases, and the country will struggle to arm and train them all properly, security analysts say.

“Unlike most Western armies, the Russian military provides low-level, initial training to soldiers within their designated operational units, rather than in dedicated training establishments,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilisation, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate,” the ministry wrote.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. warns of ‘horrific’ consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Washington has issued a warning in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s veiled threat of using nuclear weapons during his speech announcing Russia’s “partial mobilization” last week.

“It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we’ve made that very clear,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in response to Putin’s remarks during an interview with CBS News.

Putin, during his speech last Wednesday, warned that if the territorial integrity of Russia was threatened, the Kremlin would “certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. It is not a bluff.”

— Natasha Turak

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