Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on Russians to oppose the partial military mobilization announced by Vladimir Putin, which has sparked protests and another exodus from Russia. The Ukrainian president said in his daily speech on Thursday: “55,000 Russian soldiers died in these six months of war… Want more? No? Then protest, fight back, run or surrender to the Ukrainian army.
Thousands of men across Russia have been given draft papers following the announcement of the mobilization. Among those called out since Putin’s announcement on Wednesday were Russians detained while protesting the mobilization, independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said.
Traffic at Russian border crossings with Finland and Georgia has risen sharply after the announcement of the mobilization, fears were raised that men of combative age would be called to the front lines in Ukraine. Prices for one-way flights from Moscow to the nearest foreign locations soared above $5,000 (£4,435), with most airfares selling out over the next few days. Photos showed long traffic jams at border crossings with Finland and Georgia.
In response, the Finnish prime minister said her government is considering ways to severely curtail Russian tourism and transit through Finland. “The will of the government is very clear: we believe 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 deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilization protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft documents, saying: “This is not against the law.”
Putin gives direct directions to generals in the field, CNN reported. According to two sources familiar with US and Western intelligence and who spoke to CNN, “the Russian president’s direct orders to generals point to the dysfunctional chain of command” that has affected Russian forces on the battlefield.
NATO condemns plans to hold ‘referendums’ on joining the Russian Federation in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, which she described as Moscow’s “blatant attempts at territorial conquest”. “Sham referendums” in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions have no legitimacy, the alliance said.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants European Union sanctions against Russia to be lifted before the end of the yearaccording to a pro-government newspaper. Orban, an ally of Putin, has often spoken out against sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner exchange with Russia since the invasion began show signs of violent torturesaid the head of Ukrainian military intelligence on Thursday. On Wednesday, Ukraine announced the exchange of a record 215 captured soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defense of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which became an icon of the Ukrainian resistance.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he was “not surprised” that Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov left a meeting of the UN Security Council. “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council,” Slim told the UN.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly reprimanded Russia for “totally unacceptable” nuclear threats. Speaking at the beginning of a UN Security Council meeting the day after Putin raised the stakes for his invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said Moscow’s plans to annex parts of Ukraine “violate the UN Charter and of international law”.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, denied reports that a secret clause in Putin’s mobilization decree provided for 1 million reservists 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 imprisonment in which it was feared they would be executed for fighting for Ukraine. A major diplomatic effort led to the release of the five Britons who were released by Russia to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday along with two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croat and a Swedish national.