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Nord Stream pipelines hit by suspicious leaks in possible sabotage; Russia says it has 'a right' to use nuclear weapons

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Putin pushes annexation while wielding nuclear threat
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Putin pushes annexation while wielding nuclear threat

Tuesday is the final day of voting in a series of referendums on joining Russia. The votes, widely seen as rigged and illegitimate, are likely to pave the way for Russia to announce it has annexed more of Ukraine by the end of the week, analysts say.

The votes have been taking place in two pro-Russian, self-proclaimed "republics" in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and southern occupied regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

There have been multiple reports of votes being staged and coercion and aggression being used to force people living in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to vote in favor of joining Russia.

Electoral officials have gone door to door with portable ballot boxes from last Friday until yesterday. Polling stations will only open today, Tuesday, with officials citing security reasons.

Putin tries to illegally annex Ukrainian territories as Nord Stream pipeline possibly sabotaged
VIDEO3:3703:37
Putin tries to illegally annex Ukrainian territories as Nord Stream pipeline possibly sabotaged

In other news, Russia has again insisted it has a "right" to use nuclear weapons if its territory is threatened, and several suspicious leaks have hit the Nord Stream pipelines, with experts not ruling out sabotage.

European officials, meanwhile, are investigating unexplained leaks affecting both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that bring natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

Both Europe and Russia have both said sabotage cannot be ruled out as the cause of the damage, but the finger of blame is being pointed at Moscow — which is yet to directly respond to the accusations.

Blinken says initial reports of damage to Nord Stream pipeline could be sabotage

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that initial reports of apparent damage to the Nord Stream pipeline indicate it may be the result of sabotage.

"These are initial reports and we haven't confirmed that yet," Blinken told reporters at the State Department.

"Now, my understanding is the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe's energy resilience. And what's critical is that we are working day in and day out both on a short-term basis and a long-term basis to address energy security for Europe and for that matter around the world," Blinken added.

European officials, meanwhile, are investigating the unexplained leaks affecting both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that bring natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

— Amanda Macias

Russian forces are using Iranian drones in Ukraine, Pentagon says

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon September 6, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Ryder held a news briefing to answer questions from members of the press.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

The Pentagon said it has observed Russian forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine.

"We do assess that the Russians are using the Iranian drones in Ukraine," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a daily press briefing.

"We've also seen reports of Ukrainians shooting down some of these drones," he added, without providing more detail.

Last month, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that Russia had received the drones but said it was "too soon to tell" how the new weapons would shape the combat.

"It remains to be seen what the overall impact is going to be on those drones, but it's not going to change the kinds of capabilities we continue to provide," Kirby told reporters on a conference call.

"We know of some difficulties that the Russians have been having with some of those drones," Kirby added, but declined to elaborate.

— Amanda Macias