KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - KYIV, Ukraine - A planned speech later this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin may see him declare four occupied territories of Ukraine parts of Russia, the British military said Tuesday.
In a daily intelligence briefing, the British Defense Ministry said Putin will address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday and could declare the annexation of the regions. An internationally criticized vote is underway in the regions and ends Tuesday.
"Russia's leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the 'special military operation' and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict," the British said.
"This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia's recent battlefield (setbacks) and significant unease about the partial mobilization announced last week."
KYIV, Ukraine - The final day of voting began Tuesday in Russia-held regions of Ukraine. The vote is expected to serve as a pretext for their annexation by Moscow but is rejected as sham by Kyiv and its Western allies.
Security was tight in at least one of the areas where the voting took place: The Ukrainian military's general staff said that travel in the occupied southern Kherson region "is completely closed for entry and exit." It did not elaborate.
The Ukrainian military also claimed to have struck seven Ural trucks of the Russian forces in Kherson over the last day.
Tuesday marks the final day in the five days of voting. Authorities in the Russian-occupied areas had said they will open polling stations Tuesday after previously going door to door in some areas, trailed by rifle-carrying troops.
KYIV, Ukraine - The Ukrainian air force's anti-aircraft command says it has shot down four Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones in Odessa.
The Black Sea port city has been repeatedly targeted in recent days with the Iranian drones now being used by Russia in the war.
Ukrainian officials also said Tuesday that Russian rocket attacks targeted the southern areas of Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv overnight, damaging residential buildings and other sites.
KYIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian forces continue to make gains across the eastern bank of the Oskil River, a new front line in the war since Kyiv's counteroffensive seized vast swaths of territory earlier this month.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, citing Russian reports, said the Ukrainian military continues to advance north of the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. Lyman has been a key node for the Russian front.
Ukraine "seeks to encircle Russian forces in Lyman from the northwest," the institute said.
Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine