The mobilization of thousands more troops to bolster the military campaign in Ukraine is rippling across Russia, as the military swiftly drafts new recruits and signs of discontent appear to spread.
Ukrainians are fleeing from Russian-held areas to avoid the sham referendums, which could pave the way for annexation. "It was all staged," said one Ukrainian. "How can you vote when they have guns?"
All of the chain's 100-plus locations in Ukraine closed after Russia invaded in February. Three reopened in Kyiv this week, for delivery only. "It's a nice gift from McDonald's," one customer says.
Villagers describe allegations of abuse and officials say they found a torture chamber in Kozacha Lopan, in the Kharkiv region, which Russian forces invaded and took over at the start of the war.
The Russian leader has already lost several big bets in Ukraine. He may be taking his largest risk yet by mobilizing more troops and pushing ahead with plans to annex Ukrainian territory.
Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces were among 10 prisoners released by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday a partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine reaches nearly seven months and Moscow loses ground on the battlefield.
The southern Mykolaiv region has seen targeted strikes, leading Ukrainian officials to round up hundreds of people suspected of leaking information to the Russians.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the center of President Biden's address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, as the U.S. warns Russia is trying to annex more Ukrainian land.
Leaders of four separatist and partially Russian-occupied regions said they would hold referendums on whether to formally join Russia, starting as soon as Friday.