Russia’s lower house approves annexation of Ukraine areas

The lower house of Russia’s parliament approved laws on Monday on annexing four occupied Ukrainian territories into Russia, following hastily organised votes that Ukraine and the West denounced as coercive and illegitimate. No lawmakers in the State Duma voted against the resolutions, which sought to formally incorporate Ukraine’s Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces achieved their biggest breakthrough in the south of the country since the war began, bursting through the front and advancing rapidly along the Dnipro River, threatening supply lines for thousands of Russian troops.

Kyiv gave no official confirmation of the gains, but Russian sources acknowledged that a Ukrainian tank offensive had advanced dozens of kilometers along the river’s west bank, recapturing a number of villages along the way.

“The information is tense, let’s put it that way, because, yes there were indeed breakthroughs,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province told Russian state television.

Ukraine’s Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said environmental damage caused by Russia’s invasion has been estimated at around 36 billion euros ($35.3 billion), with millions of hectares of natural reserves under threat.

Meanwhile, Czech Republic has widened a warning for its citizens to leave Russia following Moscow’s mobilisation orders last month, the Foreign Ministry said. — Reuters