A man receives his ballot papers at a mobile polling station during early voting for local elections organised by the Russian-installed authorities in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on September 6, 2023, amid the ongoing conflict between the two countries.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sharply criticized what he described as Russia’s “sham elections” in occupied areas of Ukraine, saying the Kremlin’s efforts to tighten its grip on partly controlled territories it illegally annexed a year ago “is nothing more than a propaganda exercise.”
Russian-installed authorities are holding local elections in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Voting opened Friday and is scheduled to finish Sunday.
The Russian embassy in the U.S. on Friday accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs by calling the local elections in occupied areas of Ukraine “a sham,” Reuters reported, citing the RIA news agency.
The Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, also condemned the elections earlier this week, saying they represent “a flagrant violation of international law which Russia continues to disregard.”
— Sam Meredith
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla, and owner of X. formerly known as Twitter.
Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters
A Ukrainian official slammed Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for ordering engineers to shut off Starlink’s satellite network over Crimea last year in order to thwart a Ukrainian attack on Russian warships.
“By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military fleet via Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote Thursday on social media. It comes after CNN reported some details from a new biography of Musk by author Walter Isaacson.
In the early days of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, as Western governments worked to supply Kyiv with artillery and air defense systems, the first of Musk’s Starlink terminals arrived in the country. Musk eventually soured on the arrangement.
According to the book, Musk said: “Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes.”
He told Isaacson that he was worried the Ukrainian attack on Russian vessels would provoke the Kremlin into launching a nuclear war. The book, titled “Elon Musk,” will be released Tuesday.
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— Amanda Macias, Katrina Bishop
Ukrainian military forces are making “very tangible progress” in the counteroffensive against Russian forces, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News Thursday.
“I think we are seeing real forward movement,” Blinken said, “but again, this is going to go on. This is tough, this is hard.”
Blinken made the comments on the second day of his surprise visit to Ukraine, after announcing a $1 billion aid package for the country Wednesday.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
British American Tobacco said in a press release it plans to have sold its Russian and Belarusian businesses “within the next month.”
BAT had announced in March 2022 that the ownership of its businesses in Russia were “no longer sustainable in the current environment,” and said it would be transferring its business.
The tobacco giant will “no longer have a presence in Russia or Belarus” or make any financial gains from ongoing sales in those markets.
BAT said it was confident it would deliver according to its full-year guidance.
The news comes after droves of companies announced they would leave Russia following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but many still have a presence in the country.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton