Armed constabulary are going door-to-door portion gun-toting mercenaries are guarding polling stations arsenic Russian stages sham referendums successful occupied Ukraine.
'Voting' is present underway successful Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions connected whether oregon not to go provinces of Russia - with the results fixed by Moscow.
But, conscionable to marque other sure, Kremlin officials, subject constabulary and hired guns are keeping a cautious oculus implicit the process - with Ukrainian politicians reporting that they are kicking beforehand doors successful to unit radical to formed their ballots .
Serhiy Haidai, politician of occupied Luhansk, said immoderate towns nether Russian concern person been wholly sealed disconnected to guarantee radical ballot - with immoderate crosses successful the 'no' file recorded successful a 'notebook'.
Meanwhile authorities media has reported an unfeasibly precocious 97 per cent of radical successful 2 of those regions - Donetsk and Luhansk - are successful favour of joining Russia.
Ballot boxes person besides been opened crossed Russia itself, ostensibly to let displaced Ukrainians to vote, but successful world connection much opportunities for ballot rigging.
Russian subject police, equipped with rifles, travel predetermination officials into an flat artifact successful occupied Ukraine arsenic referendum 'voting' gets underway
Election officials carrying a wide ballot container (left) are fto into an flat artifact successful occupied Ukraine accompanied by equipped Russian cops (right)
A Russian mercenary wearing the awesome of the notorious Wagner subject radical stands defender extracurricular a polling presumption successful occupied Ukraine
Russian authorities media has issued implausible polling which suggests 97 per cent of radical successful Donetsk and Luhansk are successful favour of joining Russia
Western leaders person declared the referenda to beryllium a sham, saying they person nary legitimacy portion urging different governments not to recognise the results.
However, the votes bash inactive people a important infinitesimal successful the warfare due to the fact that it volition let Putin to rotation the communicative to his ain radical that immoderate Ukrainian onslaught to effort and reclaim those territories is an battle connected Russia itself.
That expands the suite of options helium tin usage successful response.
Perhaps astir worryingly, it opens the way to utilizing atomic weapons since Russia's doctrine allows their usage if the beingness of the authorities is threatened.
It would besides let Putin to upgrade his 'special subject operation' to a full-blown war, expanding his powers to conscript men and punish those who effort to quit.
A transcript of the ballot papers being handed to people, asking whether oregon not they hold to go portion of Russia
This week, helium has declared a 'partial mobilisation' of Russia's colonisation and appears intent connected forcing hundreds of thousands of men into the military.
New laws person extended soldiers' contracts indefinitely, meaning they cannot simply discontinue if they don't privation to support fighting.
As the votes was getting underway successful the occupied regions, Russian societal media sites were afloat of melodramatic scenes of tearful families bidding farewell to men departing from subject mobilization centers.
In cities crossed the immense country, men hugged their weeping household members earlier departing arsenic portion of the draft.
Russian anti-war activists, successful the meantime, planned much protests against the mobilization.
Denis Pushilin, separatist person of Moscow-backed authorities successful the Donetsk region, called the referendum connected Friday 'a humanities milestone.'
Vyacheslav Volodin, talker of Russia's little location of parliament, the State Duma, addressed the occupied regions Friday successful an online statement, saying: 'If you determine to go portion of the Russian Federation - we volition enactment you.'
Valentina Matviyenko, seat of Russia's precocious parliament house, said that residents of the occupied regions were voting for 'life oregon death' astatine the referendums.
Volodymyr Zelensky contiguous called connected Russians to 'protest' the partial mobilisation announced by Vladimir Putin, and told Kremlin troops successful Ukraine to 'fight back, tally distant oregon surrender'.
Votes are being held successful 4 areas presently nether Russian power - Donetsk and Luhansk, which unneurotic marque up the Donbas, arsenic good arsenic Kherson and Zaporizhzhia
Putin has begun staging sham referendums successful occupied areas of Ukraine that volition astir surely extremity with the regions being annexed to Russia
Makeshift voting stations person been acceptable up successful residential areas but constabulary and concern officials volition besides spell door-to-door to guarantee the outcome
Locals be a impermanent polling presumption amidst sham referendums successful Luhansk
Locals be a referendum astatine a mobile polling presumption successful Luhansk, Ukraine
In his regular address, Zelensky said: '55,000 Russian soldiers died successful these six months of war. Do you privation more? No? Then protest. Fight back, tally away, oregon surrender' to our army.'
Zelensky besides told the Russian radical contiguous that are 'complicit' successful Putin's brutal penetration which has seen alleged torture and the execution of civilians arsenic helium past said conscripts had a prime to 'live, dice oregon go a cripple' if they cannot halt being shoved disconnected to the beforehand lines.
All flights retired of Russia to neighbouring areas that let visa-free introduction were astir wholly booked contiguous portion prices besides skyrocketed arsenic the partial mobilisation, which truthful acold applies to 300,000 subject reservists, begins.
The Russian President's telephone for thousands much troops yesterday was besides accompanied by caller threats of atomic warfare towards Ukraine and its Western allies.
The voting takes spot against the backdrop of incessant warring successful Ukraine, with Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging occurrence arsenic some sides garbage to concede ground.
On Friday morning, pro-Russia officials successful the Zaporizhzhia portion reported a large blast successful the halfway of Melitopol, a metropolis that Moscow captured aboriginal connected successful the war.
Official Vladimir Rogov didn't connection immoderate details arsenic to what caused the detonation and whether determination was harm and casualties.
Moscow-backed authorities successful the Donetsk portion besides accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the metropolis of Donetsk, the region's capital, and the adjacent metropolis of Yasynuvata.
Ukrainian officials, successful turn, reported caller rounds of Russian shelling successful assorted parts of the country.
Vladimir Putin is expected to usage the sham votes to assertion that Ukraine is attacking Russian soil, perchance opening the doorway to a atomic escalation
Locals formed ballots successful sham votes successful occupied Donetsk, amid reports that Russian soldiers are taking enactment of those voting 'no'
Voters formed their ballots nether the watchful oculus of the Russian subject (left)
Vitaliy Kim, politician of the Mykolaiv portion successful confederate Ukraine that borders the Kherson region, said explosions rang retired successful the metropolis of Mykolaiv successful the aboriginal hours of Friday.
Valentyn Reznichenko, politician of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said the Russians unleashed a barrage of shelling connected Nikopol, a metropolis crossed from the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia atomic powerfulness plant, connected Friday morning.
Russia is present astir 7 months into what Putin anticipated would beryllium a days-long warfare to depose the Ukrainian authorities and instal a puppet regime.
But alternatively helium has recovered himself locked into a grinding warfare of attrition against a determined force backed by Western weapons and money.
China and India - some of whom had bully relations with Putin earlier the warfare — person distanced themselves from his regime, portion adjacent North Korea has said it won't proviso arms to Russia due to the fact that it volition 'tarnish' its image.
More protests person been organised by anti-war groups, arsenic absorption to the penetration grows.
There were besides reports of a wide exodus pursuing the announcement. On Thursday the Kremlin dismissed arsenic 'fake' reports that Russians eligible for mobilisation were rushing for the exit.
Speaking successful the House of Commons this afternoon, Armed Forces curate James Heappey described however 'rattled' Mr Putin's enactment was an acknowledgement of Russia's 'failure'.
Mr Heappey, who noted however 25,000 Russians person already died during the Ukraine conflict, told MPs that Moscow was present condemning hundreds of thousands much troops to a miserable winter.
'Russian conscripts are going to endure horribly for the Kremlin's hubris,' the curate added.
Ex-prime curate Boris Johnson, speaking successful the aforesaid Commons debate, branded 'weak' Mr Putin arsenic a 'problem gambler' taking greater risks due to the fact that helium is 'terrified of losing.
The erstwhile premier highlighted however the terms of one-way level tickets from Moscow to South Africa rocketed yesterday due to the fact that imaginable Russian conscripts 'have nary tendency to beryllium sacrificed connected the altar of his (Mr Putin's) ego'.
Soldiers from the alleged Luhansk People's Republic successful eastbound Ukraine queue up to ballot successful the referendum connected becoming portion of Russia
A bust of Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin watches implicit soldiers successful the alleged Luhansk People's Republic arsenic they ballot connected becoming portion of Russia
Soldiers of the alleged Luhansk People's Republic, a Russian-backed pseudo-state, ballot successful the referendum which volition instrumentality spot until adjacent week