Ukraine-Russia war live: Kremlin prepares for final day of elections as more drones hit Odessa

Russian gas pipeline explodes in huge fireball blast amid series of ‘Ukrainian strikes’

The Kremlin has begun preparing for the final day of elections as Vladimir Putin is set to resume office for what will be his fifth term ruling over Russia.

Images showed a stage being constructed in Moscow’s red Square and billboards being put up honouring the 10-year anniversary of the illegal annexation of the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which will take place on Monday.

More than 50 million Russians and Ukrainians living in occupied Ukraine have already voted in the elections, according to the Kremlin.

It comes as Russian forces launched a fresh wave of drone attacks against the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa in the early hours of Sunday.

Ukraine’s southern military command reported at least three sets of drone attacks over the city while the country’s broadcaster, Suspilne, said explosions had been heard in the area just after midnight local time.

The attacks came only minutes after the region had concluded a day of mourning following Russia’s deadliest strike in Odessa’s recent history on Friday. That attack killed at least 20 people and wounded 70 more.


Zelensky says Ukraine strikes reveal Russian military ‘vulnerabilities’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said recent successful Ukraine drone strikes on Russian targets revealed vulnerabilities in the Russian war machine.

Ukraine has struck multiple oil refineries in Russia this week, reaching targets in Krasnodar, Samara, Ryazan, Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, and Leningrad.

“These weeks have demonstrated to many that the Russian war machine has vulnerabilities that we can reach with our weapons,” Mr Zelensky said in his evening address.

“I am grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, and Defence Intelligence for their new Ukrainian long-range capability.

“What our own drones are capable of is a true Ukrainian long-range capability. Ukraine will now always have a strike force in the sky,” he added.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 March 2024 07:30


Putin’s party hit by cyberattack as armed Russian troops oversee voters in occupied Ukraine

United Russia, for which Vladimir Putin acts as its de facto ruler but is not representing in these elections, claimed it faced a widespread denial of service attack – a form of cyberattack aimed at paralysing web traffic – and had suspended non-essential services to repel it.

State news agency RIA quoted a senior telecoms official as blaming the cyberattacks on Ukraine and Western countries. They did not provide evidence to substantiate this claim.

Tom Watling17 March 2024 07:00


Noon Against Putin: Alexei Navalny’s final plan to disrupt Russia’s sham elections

Russian citizens will spend this weekend casting their vote for their next president, even though the result has already been decided.

No amount of votes against him can prevent his victory, say the Russian dissident community, since the system is rigged and those that could challenge him have either been killed, imprisoned or exiled.

Tom Watling17 March 2024 06:30


Russia says Ukrainian shelling killed two in a border city

Ukrainian shelling of the Russian city of Belgorod killed two people, officials said Saturday, while Russia claimed to have thwarted a new attempt by saboteurs to cross the border.

Saturday’s attacks occurred as Russians entered the second day of voting in a presidential election that is all but certain to extend Vladimir Putin’s rule by another six years after he crushed dissent.

A man and a woman died in the attack and three other people were wounded, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. It was the latest in exchanges of long-range missile and rocket fire in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 March 2024 06:00


In pics: People vote for Russia elections

A man votes in Russia’s presidential election in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on far eastern Sakhalin Island

(AFP via Getty Images)

People holding placards line up to vote at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation

(Getty Images)

Anti-Putin protestors rally at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation

(Getty Images)

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 March 2024 05:30


Yes, the Russian election is rigged – but there could still be surprises for Putin

With the results of the vote already known in advance, it may be tempting to cast a blind eye to the proceedings, writes Mary Dejevsky. But after the death of Alexei Navalny, and uncertainty around Ukraine, things may not be quite as predictable as they seem…

Tom Watling17 March 2024 05:30


This re-election of Putin is a shameless charade and nothing to do with voters’ empowerment

Editorial: With little doubt over the ‘winner’ of this weekend’s Russian presidential election, the West should take heart that Putin finds himself isolated – and as his country recedes into Stalinism, so too does its economic prospects. His impoverishing of the Russian people will prove his undoing

Tom Watling17 March 2024 04:30


One dead as Ukraine drone hits Russia’s Slavyansk refinery

One person died as fire broke out after Ukraine launched several drones at the Slavyansk oil refinery in Russia’s Krasnodar region, official said on Sunday.

“The drones were neutralised, but a fire broke out as a result of the fall of one of the devices,” the operational headquarters of the region in southern Russia said.

The fire was extinguished and there were no casualties as a result of the fire itself, the administration said. Preliminary information indicated, however, one person had died of a heart attack, it added.

Roman Siniagovskyi, head of the Slavyansk administrative district, said on Telegram that the refinery workers were evacuated and there was no threat to nearby populated areas from the incident.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 March 2024 04:00


Putin’s opposition know his election is a sham. They have a plan for change

Starting with a call for citizens to head to the polls en masse at noon on Sunday – in a symbolic show of dissent – Russia’s opposition begins a new chapter in the wake of the death of Putin’s fiercest critic Alexei Navalny, writes Tom Watling

Tom Watling17 March 2024 03:30


Multiple drones targeting Moscow destroyed, says mayor

Russia’s air defence system has destroyed multiple drones flying towards Moscow early on Sunday, mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

The alleged attack comes on the third day of a sham Russian election, which president Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

One drone was destroyed in the Ramensky district of the Moscow region and one in the Stupinsky district, while two were downed earlier in the area of Domodedovo, the mayor said.

There were no casualties or damage reported, he added.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 March 2024 03:07

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