The Russian lower house of parliament ratified the incorporation of four occupied Ukrainian regions on Monday and fast-tracked the relevant legislation as the West rallied further to Kiev’s aid.
More than 400 deputies in the Russian Duma, in a move unrecognised by most of the international community, voted unanimously in favour of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, and Kherson becoming part of the Russian Federation as well as enacting various laws.
“The laws fully strengthen the main social and economic guarantees of people living in the territories and create a system of legal protection for citizens,” Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the Duma legal committee, said according to the Interfax news agency.
Russian citizenship is to be granted to all residents of the occupied regions who apply for a passport and take an oath to the country’s constitution, which will prompt pension payments and health care.
The Russian rouble will be introduced as the currency, but until the end of the year residents will still be able to pay with Ukrainian hryvnia.
By June 1, 2023, new administrative bodies will be created.
President Vladimir Putin, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February, signed the treaties of accession on Friday with the Duma having to approve them.
A similar rubber-stamping by the upper house – the Federation Council – is considered a formality.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was a guest at the Duma and accused the United States of moving against Russia just like Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler once did against the Soviet Union.
S. has subjugated practically the entire collective West and mobilised it to make Ukraine an instrument of war with Russia – just as Hitler gathered the majority of the countries of Europe for an invasion of the Soviet Union,” Lavrov said.
International condemnation in recent days included several European countries – including Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, and Belgium – summoning the Russian ambassador to condemn Moscow’s illegal land grab.
Meanwhile, the European Union on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding on providing Ukraine with another €5 billion ($4.9 billion) in macro-financial aid.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also said her country was well aware Putin’s threat of nuclear war could be real but would not allow itself to be blackmailed by Moscow.
“We take his words very seriously; anything else would be negligent,” she told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.
Ukraine has been backed by massive Western arms and Putin has mentioned the possible use of nuclear weapons in the conflict, with his quest to capture the whole country having stalled.
Further nuclear worries have been exacerbated by fighting near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
On Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi tweeted that he had “received confirmation” that plant director Ihor Murashov had been “returned to his family” after having been abducted.
On the battlefield, Ukrainian troops again recorded successes in their counter-offensive, advancing against Russian invaders in the east and south.
In the Luhansk region, Ukrainian soldiers have already established themselves near the city of Lysychansk, a military spokesperson for the Moscow-controlled Luhansk separatists wrote on Monday on the Telegram news service.
But the Ukrainian units are nevertheless under constant fire from the Russian army.
Previously, President Volodymyr Zelensky had also confirmed an advance of Ukrainian forces in the southern region of Kherson and the recapture of the local towns of Archanhelske and Myrolyubivka.
Faced with stiff Ukrainian resolve, Putin has called for a partial mobilization of new Russian troops.
But the mobilization is plagued by organizational problems and a lack of enthusiasm among potential conscripts.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow said first recruits called up as part of the mobilization have been transferred to Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Mobilized servicemen are undergoing their combat training in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Defence Ministry said on its Telegram channel.
It also posted a video showing soldiers conducting live-fire exercises.
But in the Khabarovsk region in Russia’s far east, Governor Mikhail Degtyarev said that half of the “several thousand” conscripts had returned home.
The men in question had been called up for duty even though they did not meet criteria.
The governor did not explain how the mistakes could have happened.
The responsible head of the district military office had been dismissed, Degtyarev wrote on Telegram.
Meanwhile Putin loyalist Ramzan Kadyrov said he wants to send three of his underage sons to the war against Ukraine.
Kadyrov, the notorious head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, said that his boys Achmat, Selimchan and Adam – aged 14 to 16 – are ready to put the combat skills they have trained for to the test in Russia’s current “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“And I’m not joking,” he wrote on Telegram.
“ Soon they will be sent to the front and will be in the most difficult sections of the contact line.
” He also published a video showing his sons doing target practice.
At least 300,000 reservists are to be drafted from across Russia to fight in the occupied Ukrainian territories.
Hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled abroad to avoid being sent into military service.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria remains committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
saying the nation would continue to promote it.
Buhari made this position known while addressing delegates at a High-Level Plenary to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in New York. The president, who was represented by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, said that expending further resources on nuclear weapons stockpiling and maintenance was senseless.
This is contained in a statement by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
Buhari also expressed Nigeria’s dissatisfaction over the failure of the Tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that was held in New York, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 26. He said the conference was to produce a consensual final document which assessed the implementation of the treaty, 12 years since the adoption of an outcome document in 2010. According to him, current global realities, including threats of global and transboundary terrorism, climate change, hunger and zoonotic diseases, require collective global efforts and channelling of resources towards addressing them.
“Therefore, expending further resources on nuclear weapons stockpiling and maintenance makes no sense at all.
“The total elimination of nuclear weapons can be considered a catalyst to the assurance of global peace and security and development.
“Africa had long acknowledged the existential threat nuclear weapons pose to human existence.
“It was to this end that African countries collectively adopted the Pelindaba Treaty, which prohibited the acquisition of nuclear weapons for military purposes and declared Africa a nuclear-weapons-free zone,” he said.
Buhari said that the NPT remained an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and the key instrument in the efforts to halt the vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons.
He, therefore, called for the full implementation of all commitments and the unequivocal undertakings assumed by the Nuclear-Weapons States at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and the 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences of the Parties to the treaty.
According to Buhari, while Nigeria remains resolute in its support for the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, the country is mindful of the beneficial uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
He re-affirmed the right of all states to use nuclear technologies for their developmental aspirations consistent with the relevant articles of the NPT, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) statute.
He said that Nigeria joined other countries in the core group to co-sponsor the resolution that led to the adoption of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons in 2017. President Buhari enjoined other states that had not ratified the treaty to do so without any further delay, to enable full implementation of its provisions.
“Nigeria wishes to reiterate its call for the implementation and enforcement of all treaties on the elimination of nuclear weapons and reassures of her continued principled position in support of a world free of nuclear weapons,” he added.
NAN reports that NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
It is meant to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
The Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have signed an agreement for training on nuclear courses.
According to the agreement, ABU’s Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) will participate in the Internet Reactor Laboratory (IRL) project on the use of research reactor for nuclear courses at the university level.
Malam Auwalu Umar, the Director, Public Affairs Directorate, ABU Zaria, made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday in Zaria.
Umar said the agreement was signed on Sept. 26 during the ongoing 66th Annual Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria.
He said that the Vice-Chancellor of ABU, Prof. Kabiru Bala, signed the agreement on behalf of the Centre and Nigeria, while the Deputy Director-General, Nuclear Energy, IAEA, Mr Mikhail Chudakov, stood in for the IAEA.
“IAEA’s Internet Reactor Laboratory Project is a cost-effective way to educate groups of students in reactor physics, and will assist Nigeria in development of the human capital needed for nuclear science and technology programmes.
“The project was facilitated by the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), and it presents a unique opportunity for the research and teaching staff as well as cooperating universities to participate in human capacity building in the field of nuclear reactor physics and engineering,” he said.
According to Umar, IAEA’s Internet Reactor Laboratory (IRL) enables live immersion into reactor technology and operation to countries that otherwise have no installed facilities, but have groups of students ready to undertake experimental reactor physics courses.
He expained that IRL works by giving access to reactor experiments in a remote location via an internet link using hardware and software installed in a research reactor in the host state.
He said signals were sent over the internet to the guest institution, where a real-time display of the reactor’s control room was visible to students.
“Then, using video conference equipment, students at the guest institution can intereact with operators in the reactor control room to conduct experiements,” Umar said.
He explained that under the agreement, ABU’s Centre for Energy Research and Training shall participate as a guest institution in the project in order to develop and strengthen nuclear education capacities in Nigeria and African sub-region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, in a telephone conversation with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama, exchanged views on the latest state of Iran-Nigeria bilateral relations as well as international developments.
The Iranian foreign minister said that half a century of relations between the two countries is a great and solid capital for the development of political, economic and cultural relations between Iran and Nigeria based on common interests.
Amirabdollahian described as successful the holding of the sixth meeting of the joint cooperation commission between the two countries and said that the implementation of the documents signed in this meeting is important.
Meanwhile, during the conversation, referring to the most recent state of the negotiations for the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the head of the Iranian diplomatic apparatus highlighted Iran's commitment to the continuation of talks with the other parties and its willingness to reach to a strong and lasting agreement.
Amirabdollahian expressed his hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would continue with its task in a technical and non-political way, saying that an agreement can be reached if the United States is realistic.
In the end, he invited his Nigerian counterpart to visit Tehran.
The Nigerian Foreign Minister, for his part, said that the recent visit of a Nigerian delegation to Tehran was fruitful, noting that the history of friendly relations between the two countries and the solidarity of the two nations on various challenges is a fertile ground for developing.
relationships in various political, economic, commercial and cultural fields.
He expressed hope that the Iranian foreign minister's upcoming visit to Africa will include Nigeria.
Onyeama also conveyed the Nigerian President's warm greetings to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
The Nigerian Foreign Minister emphasized Iran's goodwill during the negotiations for the lifting of sanctions and, referring to the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), expressed the hope that Washington will return to the agreement and the resolution of the problems.
Turkey can mediate in a standoff over Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station which is occupied by Moscow’s troops, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
“President Erdogan stated that Turkey can play a facilitator role in the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, as they did in the grain deal,” the Turkish presidency said, referring to a grain export agreement signed in July by Kyiv and Moscow with the United Nations and Turkey as guarantors.
Last month, Erdogan warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster when he visited Lviv for talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We are worried.
We do not want another Chernobyl,” the Turkish leader had said.
There has been growing alarm over Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, which is under Russian control.
Ukraine on Friday said it bombed a Russian base in the nearby town of Energodar, destroying three artillery systems as well as an ammunition depot.
A 14-strong team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Zaporizhzhia, with the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief, Rafael Grossi, saying that the site had been damaged in fighting.
Turkey, which has friendly ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, has supplied Ukraine with drones and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia.
Before meeting with Zelensky, Erdogan met with Putin in Sochi where the two countries pledged to boost their economic cooperation.
During their phone call on Saturday, Erdogan and Putin agreed to talk further in Samarkand on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on September 15-16, the presidency said.
UN inspectors spent a second day Friday at a Russian-held nuclear plant and at least two will remain on a permanent basis to ensure safety after the United Nations atomic agency said the site had been “violated” by the fighting in Ukraine.
A 14-strong team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Thursday as global concern grew over its safety in a war raging ever-closer to its six reactors.
Russian troops seized control of the site Europe’s biggest atomic facility in early March.
“It is obvious that the plant and physical integrity of the plant has been violated several times,” IAEA head Rafael Grossi said on Thursday as he and part of his team returned to Ukrainian-controlled territory after a productive first visit lasting around three hours.
The Argentinian said some of his inspectors would stay at the plant “until Sunday or Monday” to “dig deeper” into some of the observations the team had made to draw up a report.
He did not specify how many stayed behind but said the agency would retain a permanent presence there.
“We have achieved something very important today, and the important thing is the IAEA is staying here.
” Russia’s envoy to Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov said six IAEA inspectors had stayed behind and that two more would remain there “on a permanent basis”.
“Six (IAEA) employees will stay at the plant.
for a few more days and then they will return to Vienna,” he told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“Two people will stay at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on a permanent basis.
“We welcome this because an international presence can dispel the many rumours about the state of affairs at the nuclear power plant.
” ‘Stop playing with fire’ A shelling attack on the area at dawn on Thursday had forced one of the plant’s six reactors to close in what Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear agency said was “the second time in 10 days” that Russian shelling had forced the closure of a reactor.
It said the plant’s emergency protection system kicked in, shutting reactor five, with the attack damaging a back-up power supply.
The shelling left only one of the six reactors working.
Red Cross chief Robert Mardini had on Thursday warned the consequences of hitting the plant could be “catastrophic” saying “the slightest miscalculation could trigger devastation that we will regret for decades.
” “It is high time to stop playing with fire and instead take concrete measures to protect this facility… from any military operations,” he reporters in Kyiv. Both sides have traded repeated accusations over who was responsible for the shelling the area around Energodar, the town which lies next door to the plant on the south bank of the Dnipro River.
Ukraine has accused Russia of storing ammunition at the plant and deploying hundreds of soldiers there.
And it also suspects Moscow is intending to divert power from the plant to the nearby Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops pressed ahead with a counter-offensive in the nearby region of Kherson to retake areas seized by Russia at the start of the invasion.
In its morning update, the presidency said explosions could be heard across Kherson throughout the night and that “heavy fighting” was taking place in two areas just upriver from Kherson city, the regional capital.
In the eastern Donetsk region, four people were killed and 10 wounded in various shelling incidents, while another died when a village was hit near Kharkhiv, Ukraine’s second city in the country’s north east.
Despite the conflict, now in its seventh month, children started a new school year on September 1, although in several regions that meant being back online as all school attendance was cancelled due to the ongoing fighting.
“I’m happy to be back at school but I would be even happier if there was no war because I miss my teacher and my friends,” nine-year-old Antonina Sidorenko, told AFP as she started her online lessons with the distant crackle of gunfire in the background.
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday arrived in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in the latest stage in their efforts to inspect conditions at the embattled nuclear power plant there.
Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant has been controlled by Russian forces since March, but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.
The site has come under repeated shelling in August, and last week temporarily lost connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line.
The IAEA mission will help ensure nuclear safety and security at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and undertake vital safeguard activities.
Speaking to reporters, IAEA Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed confidence that they would be able to safely conduct their technical mission, which follows months of consultations amid fears of a potential catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear facility.
The mission will take a few days, he said, though adding that it can be “prolonged” if they can establish a continued presence at the site.
Asked if he believed Russia will allow the agency to see what is really happening there, Grossi responded that his team is made up of very experienced people.
“I bring here the best and the brightest in safeguards, in safety, in security, and we will have a pretty good idea of what’s going on,” he said in a statement.
Grossi was also asked by a journalist, how they could help avoid a feared meltdown or nuclear incident at the plant.
“This a matter of political will,” he said.
“It’s a matter that has to do with the countries that are in this conflict, in particular the Russian Federation, which is occupying the place.
” Grossi is leading the 13-member mission from the Vienna-based IAEA, which set out for Ukraine on Monday.
He met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday.
The team’s priorities include ensuring nuclear safety and security at the plant, as well as undertaking vital safeguard activities, and assessing the working conditions of the Ukrainian personnel working there.
G7 nations say they welcome the imminent visit by a team of international experts to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.
The G7 Non-Proliferation Directors Group said in a statement on Monday.
“They are profoundly concerned by the serious threat the continued control of Ukrainian nuclear facilities by Russian armed forces pose to the safety and security of these facilities.
’’ “These actions significantly raise the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endanger the population of Ukraine, neighbouring states, and the international community,’’ it continued.
The G7 said the team of experts from the UN’s nuclear watchdog must be allowed access to facilities and Ukrainian personnel “safely and without impediment.
’’ Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were set to assess physical damage to the plant.
It would also determine the functionality of safety and security systems, evaluate staff conditions and perform urgent safeguards.
Ukraine and Russia traded fresh accusations of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday, as its operator warned of a radioactive leak risk at the atomic facility.
The Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian troops since the opening of the invasion.
Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly swapped allegations over rocket attacks in the vicinity of the plant — Europe’s largest — located in the city of Energodar.
On Saturday operator Energoatom said Russian troops “repeatedly shelled” it over the past day.
Russia’s defence ministry issued a counter-claim that Ukraine’s troops were responsible for a salvo of 17 shells landing on the site.
“As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high,” Energoatom said on Telegram.
The agency said that as of midday Saturday (0900 GMT) the plant “operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards”.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukrainian forces “shelled the territory of the station three times” from the town of Marganets across the Dnipro River.
In a communique the ministry accused Kyiv of “nuclear terrorism” and said shells landed near areas storing fresh nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.
Nevertheless radiation levels at the plant “remain normal” the ministry said.
Power out On Thursday, the plant was cut off from Ukraine’s national power grid for the first time in its four-decade history due to “actions of the invaders”, Energoatom said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the power cut was caused by Russian shelling of the last active power line linking the plant to the network.
It came back online on Friday afternoon but Zelensky warned “the worst case scenario … is constantly being provoked by Russian forces”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is urging for a mission to the plant “as soon as possible to help stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there”.
Agency head Rafael Mariano Grossi has said he wants to visit the site within days, warning of potential disaster.
Ukraine energy minister adviser Lana Zerkal said an IAEA inspection “is planned for the next week”.
But Zerkal told Ukraine’s Radio NV late Thursday she was sceptical the mission would go ahead, despite Moscow’s formal agreement, as “they are artificially creating all the conditions so that the mission will not reach the site”.
Diverting energy Britain’s defence ministry said satellite imagery showed an increased presence of Russian troops at the power plant with armoured personnel carriers deployed within 60 metres (200 feet) of one reactor.
Kyiv suspects Moscow intends to divert power from the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russian troops in 2014.
Washington has warned against any such move.
“The electricity that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters, saying attempts to redirect power to occupied areas were “unacceptable”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which this week entered its seventh month — has also prompted a wider global energy crisis.
Anxiety over gas and oil supply has sent prices soaring and on Friday both Germany and France reported record electricity prices for 2023, more than 10 times higher than for this year.
The EU — which declares itself a staunch ally of Ukraine — has vowed to wean its 27 member states off Russian energy to protest the nation’s attack on its neighbour.
On Friday the EU presidency vowed to hold an emergency summit to address the crisis as the winter months approach.
Russia’s Defence Ministry has confirmed that its forces were behind Wednesday’s missile strike on a railway station in central Ukraine that Kiev said left at least 25 people dead, including civilians.
However, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers on their way to fight in the Donbass region had been killed in the attack in the central Dnipropetrovsk region town of Chaplyne.
No evidence was produced to support the claim that so many soldiers died, however.
Konashenkov added that the rocket hit a part of the station used by the Ukrainian military and that military equipment had also been destroyed.
The Ukrainian authorities said that 25 people, including two children, had died in the attack, while at least 30 others were injured.
The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said that both residential areas and railway infrastructure in Chaplyne had been targeted by Russian forces.
Tymoshenko said that an 11-year-old who was crushed under rubble and a 6-year-old killed in a car fire near the train station had been among the victims.
Neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian claims could be independently verified.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack, which was carried out on Ukraine’s Independence Day, which fell six months to the day after the Russian invasion began.
US President Joe Biden called Zelensky on Thursday to offer him his moral support and to promise Washington’s continuing backing for Kiev as the war entered its seventh month.
Ukrainian train stations and rail infrastructure have repeatedly been targeted during the war.
In April, at least 57 people died in an attack on a train station in the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donbass region.
Another recurring feature has been Russian efforts to take control of Ukrainian nuclear plants, which has led to worries that a miscalculation could result in a nuclear catastrophe.
Kiev said on Thursday that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, had been disconnected from the Ukrainian electricity grid, though Ukrainian nuclear agency Enerhoatom stressed that the plant’s power supply, which is vital for its safetly, was being maintained.
In his Thursday night video address, Zelensky called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to act with greater urgency over the contested plant: “Every minute that the Russian military remains at the nuclear power plant means the risk of a global radiation disaster,” he stressed.
Moscow said that the last two last operational reactors at the plant had been forced to temporarily shut down due to Ukrainian shelling, though the Russian-installed governor of the Zaporizhzhya region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said on Telegram that one of the reactors had subsequently been restarted.
Kiev and Moscow have repeatedly blamed each other for the shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
According to Enerhoatom, all four of the power plant’s supply lines have now been damaged by Russian shelling.
Washington blasted Russia’s attempts to claim the plant and the energy it produced on Thursday.
“No country should turn a nuclear power plant into an active war zone,” said deputy State Department spokesperson Verdant Patel, adding that it was very clear that the energy produced at Zaporizhzhya belonged to Ukraine.
Also on Thursday, the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) cited observers as saying that internationally-banned cluster munitions have been used in by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Calling the reports “shocking,” the CMC said that the munitions had caused hundreds of casualties since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine began in February.
“Preliminary data indicates at least 689 casualties reported during cluster munition attacks in Ukraine for the first half of 2022. Many casualties may have gone unrecorded,” it added.
An 2008 international treaty bans cluster munitions, though many key countries, including the United States and Russia, are not signatories to the agreement.
In another hint that the war could still escalate, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a 137,000-person expansion of the Russian army, growing its entire personnel to over 2 million, including some 1.15 million troops.
No official reason was given for the increase.