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Ukraine latest news: Putin 'faces imminent defeat' in area he's about to declare part of Russia

Four Russia-controlled regions of Ukraine to be annexed on Friday; Russia has hinted the US is behind explosions which have badly damaged underwater Nord Stream gas pipelines running to Germany; the pipelines may be "unusable forever" after major leaks, German media reports.

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Russia to open more offices on borders to intercept men fleeing conscription

Russian authorities are opening more military enlistment offices near the country's borders, in a bid to intercept men of fighting age who are fleeing the draft.

Russian officials said they would hand call-up notices to all eligible men who were trying to leave the country.

A new draft office opened at the Ozinki checkpoint in the Saratov region on Russia's border with Kazakhstan, regional officials said Thursday. 

Another enlistment center was set to open at a crossing in the Astrakhan region, also on the border with Kazakhstan.

Earlier this week, makeshift Russian draft offices were set up near the Verkhny Lars border crossing into Georgia in southern Russia and near the Torfyanka checkpoint on Russia's border with Finland. 

Over 194,000 Russian citizens have fled to neighboring Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Finland — most often by car, bicycle, or on foot — since Russian President Vladimir Putin last week announced a partial mobilization of reservists. In Russia, the vast majority of men under age 65 are registered as reservists.

In response, Finland said it would close the borders tonight to all Russian tourists.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims Russian death toll almost 60,000

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy has said Russia can still avoid the damaging consequences of war, but to achieve that, Vladimir Putin must be stopped.

Speaking in his nightly address he said: "Already 58,500 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine. They came to kill us and died. 

"You are not told this number. You are being lied to about the alleged death toll of about six thousand. 58.5! 

"That's the truth. All of them died because one person wanted this war. 

"Only one, which many people serve."

Addressing Russians directly, he warned more people would be called up to serve: "Did you believe that they would take only 300 thousand people? 

"The one who started this war will not stop at the first wave of mobilization, there will be more. He will try to take other lives as well.

"He doesn’t care about people. He respects neither the living nor the dead…

"Thousands of bodies of dead Russian soldiers from various regions remain in Ukraine. They rot in the fields, they are stored in morgues.

"Those that were not burned by the Russian army itself. The only army in the world that carries around mobile crematoria to dispose of the bodies of its fallen soldiers when it has time to do so."

Defence secretary 'delighted' to have met counterpart in Kyiv this week

Ben Wallace says support for the war-torn country will continue into 2023.

Ex-US Army major and anaesthesiologist wife charged with plotting to leak healthcare data to Russia

A former US Army major and his anaesthesiologist wife have been criminally charged for allegedly plotting to leak highly sensitive healthcare data about military patients to Russia, the US Justice Department has revealed.

The indictment alleges that the plot started after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Prosecutors said the pair wanted to try to help the Russian government by providing them with data to help the Putin regime "gain insights into the medical conditions of individuals associated with the U.S. government and military."

The two met with someone whom they believed was a Russian official, but in fact was actually an FBI undercover agent, the indictment says.

At a hotel in Baltimore on 17 August, Gabrielian told the undercover agent "she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide any assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail," the indictment says.

In the meeting, she volunteered to bring her husband into the scheme, saying he had information about prior military training the United States provided to Ukraine, among other things.

At another meeting later that day, Henry told the undercover agent he too was committed to Russia, and claimed he had even contemplated volunteering to join the Russian army.

"The way I am viewing what is going on in Ukraine now, is that the United States is using Ukrainians as a proxy for their own hatred toward Russia," he allegedly told the agent.

Gabrielian did express concern about her children, demanding they have a "nice flight to Turkey to go on vacation because I don't want to end in jail here with my kids being hostages over my head". 

Apparently, Henry had some reservations about providing healthcare data, saying it would violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the indictment says, but his wife had no hesitations.

In a subsequent 24 August meeting, she told the undercover agent her husband was a "coward" to be concerned about violating HIPAA, but she violated the law "all the time" and she would see to it that they could provide Russia with access to medical records from Fort Bragg patients.

By the end of the month, she had handed over information on current and former military officials and their spouses, it says.

Russian billionaire criminally charged for violating US sanctions with child's birth

A Russian billionaire has been criminally charged in New York with violating US sanctions after he schemed to ensure his child would be born in the United States.

The Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, 52, has faced economic sanctions since 2018, when he was designated for them by the U.S. Treasury Department, which said he had acted for or on behalf of a senior Russian official and had operated in the energy sector of the Russian economy. 

Andrew C. Adams, a Manhattan federal prosecutor who heads a task force pursuing crimes by Russian oligarchs, said in a release that Deripaska had lied and evaded U.S. sanctions as he sought to benefit from life in America "despite his cozy ties with the Kremlin and his vast wealth acquired through ties to a corrupt regime." 

"The hypocrisy in seeking comfort and citizenship in the United States, while enjoying the fruits of a ruthless, anti-democratic regime, is striking," Adams said. "That Deripaska practiced that hypocrisy through lies and criminal sanctions evasion has made him a fugitive from the country he so desperately wished to exploit."

Only one of the four charged in the indictment — Olga Shriki, 42, of New Jersey — was in custody. 

Shriki was charged in part with trying to help another woman charged in the case — Ekaterina Olegovna Voronina — to get into the United States to give birth to Deripaska's child. 

Shriki's lawyer, Bruce Maffeo, declined comment. 

Authorities said Deripaska spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it possible for his child to be born in the United States so the child could take advantage of the US health care system and the benefits of a US birthright. 

The child, upon birth, received US citizenship. 

Following the birth, Deripaska's three co-defendants conspired to conceal the name of the child's true father by slightly misspelling the child's last name, the indictment said.

 According to the indictment, Deripaska was the owner and controller of Basic Element Limited, a private investment, and management company used to advance his various business interests. 

Russia urged by Turkey to give 'peace negotiations another chance'

Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan has pressed Vladimir Putin in a call on Thursday to take steps to reduce tensions in Ukraine and urged the Russian leader to extend a deal protecting Black Sea grains exports, the president's office said. 

Mr Erdogan also cited Moscow's plans to incorporate four Ukrainian regions into Russia, which Turkey opposes, and he asked Putin to give peace negotiations another chance, according to Ankara's readout of the call. 

The UN- and Turkey-brokered grains corridor, allowing Ukrainian shipping exports, is set to expire in late November and can be renewed with the backing of Russia and the other three parties to the agreement. 

In response, Mr Putin said it was necessary to fulfill the grain deal - including lifting barriers for Russian food and fertiliser supplies.

'Sham referenda' a futile attempt to land grab, says US secretary of state

Antony Blinken said Russia's attempts to annex parts of Ukraine are illegitimate.

"The Kremlin's sham referenda are a futile effort to mask what amounts to a further attempt at a land grab in Ukraine," Blinken said in a statement. 

"To be clear: the results were orchestrated in Moscow and do not reflect the will of the people of Ukraine." 

Russians continue to flee ahead of border closures

Russian citizens continue to make their way across the border.

It comes as Finland said it will close crossings to Russian tourists in just a few hours.

Vladimir Putin calls 'unprecedented sabotage' against gas pipe lines 'terrorism'

Leaking gas bubbled up in the Baltic Sea for a third day after suspected explosions ripped through undersea pipelines built to carry gas from Russia to Europe.

Earlier today, Russia's foreign ministry said the leaks occurred in territory "fully controlled by US intelligence agencies". 

Now the Russian leader has gone one step further and called the attacks an "act of international terrorism".

Mistakes made during partial mobilisation 'should be corrected'

All mistakes made during partial military mobilisation should be corrected, Russian president Vladimir Putin has said.

Speaking during a meeting of the country's Security Council today he said those who had military experience and training in required specialities should be called up first. RIA Novosti news agency reported. 

There have been widespread public expressions of discontent from officials and citizens over the way the mobilisation, announced last week, has been handled, including complaints about enlistment officers sending call-up papers to ineligible men. 

Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid the draft.