After retaking most of the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian forces advanced in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions (KyivPost, 22 September 2022; ISW, 23 September 2022). Ukrainian forces also destroyed several Russian command posts and ammunition warehouses in the Kherson region.
Meanwhile, a prisoner exchange took place between Ukraine and Russia on 21 September. Russia returned 215 prisoners of war to Ukraine (Government Portal of Ukraine, 22 September 2022; Suspilne Media, 22 September 2022), in exchange for 55 Russian soldiers and the former parliamentary leader of a banned, pro-Russian party (Reuters, 22 September 2022).
On 23 September, Russian occupying forces held so-called ‘referendums’ on joining Russia in the occupied regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia. The ‘referendums’ are widely seen as an illegitimate pretense to annex the regions, with many foreign leaders claiming they will not recognize the results (DW, 28 September 2022). According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces banned people from leaving occupied areas during the four-day vote, collected people’s votes at their homes while armed, recorded the names of those who voted against joining, and threatened employees with losing their jobs if they did not participate (Reuters, 24 September 2022; BBC, 27 September 2022).
For more information, including previous infographics and an interactive dashboard, visit our Ukraine Crisis research hub.