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At least 25 people were killed in a Russian attack on a convoy of vehicles near the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhya on Friday, according to officials in Kyiv, the same day Moscow is set to declare annexation of four Ukrainian provinces, including Zaporizhzhya . After the ‘sham’ referendum.

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At least 28 people were injured in Russian shelling on the “humanitarian convoy”. According to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who also tweeted pictures of the strike showing several damaged vehicles and bodies on the road.

On Telegram, Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh Told The men in the convoy were on their way to Russian-occupied parts of Zaporizhzhya province with the intention of providing aid and helping their relatives escape to territory under Ukrainian control.

Despite its annexation attempt, Russia currently occupies about half of Zaporizhzhya Province and the other half, including the provincial capital, the city of Zaporizhzhya, is under Ukrainian control.

According to Washington PostMany families are trying to escape from Russian-controlled parts of the province, amid fears that Russia may forcibly mobilize Ukrainian men in these areas to fight on its side.

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Russia is set to announce annexation of four Ukrainian territories on Friday: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson. While there are Luhansk and Kherson completely down Russian occupation, Moscow's forces only control Donetsk and about half of Zaporizhzhya. Fierce fighting continues in Donetsk, with Ukrainian counter-offensive significant advantage in recent weeks. Ukrainian army has also succeeded almost encircle Lyman, a town in Donetsk that serves as a major logistics center for Russian forces in the region. Losing control of Lyman could have disastrous effects on Russia's ongoing invasion of the region as it is a major railway junction used by Moscow to re-supply its forces. The Kremlin has said that Russian forces keep fighting in Ukraine until they captured the entire Donetsk province.

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Putin is expected to formally sign the annexation decree on Friday, which is expected to take place at a concert in Moscow's Red Square. Both Ukraine and the West have refused to acknowledge Russia's illegal occupation, while countries such as India and China - which are friendly to Russia - have made statements about respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity. However, there are some concerns that Putin may use the merger as an excuse to suggest that Russia is now waging a defensive war on its territory against Ukraine, which could allow it to escalate the conflict further. Is. In a speech last week, Putin warned that Russia was ready to use nuclear weapons if its region was threatened.

In Zaporizhzhia, Russia Controls a Referendum But Not Hearts or Minds (Washington Post)

Russia will annex Ukrainian territories on Friday, says Kremlin - after 'evening' referendum (Forbes)

Here's what would happen if Putin ordered a nuclear strike in Ukraine (Forbes)

Russian correspondent: Thousands of Russian soldiers trapped in eastern Ukraine (Forbes)