Tears farewell as Russian men board trains for military service

“Information has been received from 15 police services that the arrested men have been summoned to the military registration and recruitment office,” OVD-Info said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to deny reports that some protesters had been given draft documents, saying only: “This is not against the law.” The police could not be reached for direct comment, nor was the design office.

Journalists have also reportedly been ordered to enlist.

Russian TV channel Dozhd said Artem Kriger, a journalist from the SOTA news site, had received a draft subpoena after being arrested while covering anti-mobilization protests in Moscow.

Some Russian men rushed to the borders on Thursday following Putin’s mobilization order, which saw traffic at the border crossings with Finland and Georgia spike and prices for air tickets from Moscow skyrocketed.

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About 10,000 volunteers have come to enlist for the Russian military campaign in Ukraine without waiting for convocation papers issued as part of a partial mobilization, Russian news agencies reported Thursday, citing the Russian General Staff.

Putin announced Russia’s first public mobilization since World War II on Wednesday. Its defense minister said it wanted to recruit 300,000 experienced specialists for the Russian campaign in Ukraine, where it has recently suffered serious setbacks.

In fact, in addition to the mobilization, Putin announced plans to annex four Ukrainian provinces, saying Moscow would assist with referendums on accession to Russia on Wednesday. He also threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend his country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday at a Security Council meeting on Ukraine that talk of a nuclear conflict was “totally unacceptable”.

He also effectively warned Russia against taking the territories, saying: “Any annexation of the territory of one state by another state as a result of the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and of the international right”.

Ukraine and its allies have rejected plans for referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya provinces from Friday to September 27 as a “sham” to try to legitimize an illegal land grab.

On the ground, the Russian army fired nine rockets at the city of Zaporizhzhya, hitting a hotel and a power plant, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said. At least one person died with others trapped under the rubble, he added. Zaporizhzhya is about 50 km from the nuclear power plant of the same name.

In the Russian-administered southern city of Melitopol, also in the Zaporizhzhya region, an overcrowded market was hit by an explosion. The exiled mayor of the city said it killed three soldiers and was staged by the occupying forces to accuse Ukraine of terrorism. A member of the Russian-installed local government accused Ukraine’s special services of trying to cause chaos on the eve of the vote.

Amid further violence, Russia-installed separatists said at least six civilians were killed and six injured in a rocket attack on a market in central Donetsk on Thursday.

Cars queue to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Nuijamaa border checkpoint in Lappeenranta, Finland.

Cars queue to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Nuijamaa border checkpoint in Lappeenranta, Finland.Credit:AP

Bodies lay in the street next to a wrecked bus surrounded by rubble and twisted metal. A firefighter hugged a sobbing woman whose daughter had died in the vehicle.

Finnish border

Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia “intensified” overnight after Putin ordered a partial military mobilization and remained high on Thursday but was under control, the Finnish Border Guard said.

At the border crossing in Vaalimaa, about a three-hour drive from Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, at about 1:15 p.m. local time there were three lanes of cars, each 300-400 meters long, a border official told Reuters.

The crossing is one of nine on Finland’s 1,300 km border with Russia, the longest in the European Union.

Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday that Finland is closely monitoring the situation in its neighboring country following Putin’s order Wednesday to mobilize for the war in Ukraine.

Reuters of reporters

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