Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on Russians to resist the partial military mobilization announced by Vladimir Putin, which has sparked protests and a fresh exodus from Russia. The Ukrainian president said in his daily address on Thursday: “55,000 Russian soldiers died in these six months of war … Do you want more? None? So protest, fight back, run away or surrender” to the Ukrainian army.
Thousands of men across Russia have been issued with draft papers following the mobilization announcement. Among those who have called since Putin’s announcement on Wednesday were Russians detained while protesting against the mobilization, the independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group said.
Traffic at Russian border crossings to Finland and Georgia increased sharply after the mobilization announcement sparked fears that men of fighting age would be called to the front line in Ukraine. Prices for one-way flights out of Moscow to the nearest foreign locations rose to over $5,000 (£4,435), with most tickets selling out in the coming days. Pictures showed long tail ridges at border crossings to Finland and Georgia.
In response, Finland’s prime minister said her government was considering ways to sharply reduce Russian tourism and transit through Finland. “The will of the government is very clear: we believe in Russian tourism [to Finland] must be stopped, as well as transit through Finland,” Sanna Marin told reporters.
The Kremlin has dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age as “exaggerated”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also declined to dismiss Russian media reports that some anti-mobilization protesters detained Wednesday night had received draft papers, says, “This is not against the law.”
Putin gives instructions directly to generals in the field, CNN reported. The direct orders from the Russian president to the generals “hint at the dysfunctional command structure” that has affected Russian forces on the battlefield, according to two sources familiar with US and Western intelligence. spoke to CNN.
Nato has condemned plans to hold “referendums” to become a member of the Russian Federation in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, describing them as Moscow’s “obvious attempts at territorial conquest”. “Sham polls” in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions have no legitimacy, said the alliance.
The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, wants EU sanctions against Russia repealed at the end of the yearsaid a pro-government daily. Orban, a Putin ally, has often spoken out against the sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the beginning of the invasion show signs of violent torturethe head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service said Thursday. On Wednesday, Ukraine announced the exchange of a record 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russiaincluding fighters who led the defense of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, which became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he was “not surprised” that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a UN Security Council meeting. “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council,” Cleverly said at the United Nations.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly rebuked Russia for “totally unacceptable” nuclear threats. Speaking at the start of a UN Security Council meeting the day after Putin raised the stakes in his invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said that Moscow plans to annex parts of Ukraine was a “violation of the UN Charter and international law”.
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, too denied reports that an undisclosed clause in Putin’s mobilization decree provided for 1 million reservists to be drafted to fight in Ukraine. “This is a lie,” Peskov said in response to a report from Novaya Gazeta.
Five Britons released from Russia meet their families after several months of captivity, where it was feared that they would be executed for fighting for Ukraine. A greater diplomatic effort was behind it the release of the five Britons who, along with two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croatian and a Swedish citizen, were released by Russia to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.