Russia Begins Troop Mobilisation For Ukraine; Many Flee Amid Putin’s Call

Russia begins mobilizing troops for Ukraine;  Many people fled in the middle of Putin's call

At least 10,000 people have volunteered to fight in the 24 hours since the order was issued, the Russian military said.


Moscow began a mandatory military convocation on Thursday to try to bolster a faltering war effort in Ukraine, with authorities saying thousands have volunteered even as Russian men flee the country to avoid being forced to fight.

Amateur footage posted on social media since President Vladimir Putin ordered reservists on Wednesday with the aim of showing hundreds of Russian citizens across the country responding to a military summons.

The call comes as Moscow-administered regions in Ukraine will vote in the coming days on whether to become part of Russia in referendums called by Kyiv and its allies. Is it illegal to occupy land?

Moscow took these steps after Ukrainian forces recaptured much of the northeastern region of Kharkiv, which was seen as a possible turning point in a seven-month war that has come to a standstill.

The Russian military said on Thursday that at least 10,000 people had volunteered to fight in the 24 hours since the order was issued, but the men also rushed to leave Russia before they could begin to join.

“I don’t want to go to war,” a man named Dmitri, who flew to Armenia with only a small bag, told AFP. “I don’t want to die in this senseless war. This is a fratricidal war.”

– Addendum ‘voting’ –

Men of military age made up the majority of those who disembarked the latest flight from Moscow at the Armenian airport, and many were reluctant to speak.

Yerevan has been a major destination for Russians fleeing since the war began on February 24, drawing international backlash to isolate Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday demanded that Putin be held accountable as he confronts Russia during a Security Council session in which the United Nations listed abuses in Ukraine.

Blinken told the Security Council during a special session when the leaders met at the United Nations: “We cannot – we will not – let President Putin deal with this.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – whom Blinken has refused to meet privately since the invasion in February – lashed out at the West’s accusations.

“Today there is an attempt to impose on us a completely different story of Russian aggression as the source of this tragedy,” Lavrov told the Security Council.

The confrontation on the diplomatic stage escalated as Kremlin-installed officials in parts of Ukraine controlled by Moscow’s forces on Thursday vowed to push for the merger this week.

Four Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine – Donetsk and Lugansk to the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to the south – have announced that they will hold a five-day vote, starting Friday.

Vladimir Saldo, head of the Moscow-installed Kherson, which soon fell to the Russian invasion, said the referendum would take place in his region despite criticism.

“The date has been fixed. We have given the green light. Voting will start tomorrow and nothing can stop it,” he told Russian state media.

“People have been waiting and they are asking for this vote to be held soon,” he added.

Western leaders convening in New York this week unanimously condemned the votes.

Speaking at the United Nations, US President Joe Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “shamelessly” violating the UN Charter with his war to “sniff Ukraine’s right to exist as a state”.

– ‘Anyone wants to leave’ –

The incorporation of areas at risk of war into Russia would represent a major escalation of the conflict, as Moscow could then try to say that it is defending its territory from Ukrainian forces.

After his proxies in Ukraine announced the votes, Putin announced that Russia would call up about 300,000 reservists to support the war effort and warned that Moscow would use “any means.” to defend its territory.

Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement on social media that those means included “strategic nuclear weapons”. He predicted the voting districts “will integrate into Russia”.

For most observers, the results of the simultaneous votes were a foregone conclusion and rushed as Ukrainian forces were gaining much in a counter-offensive to retake the region. bronze.

The referendums are reminiscent of a similar vote in 2014 that saw the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine annexed by Russia. Western capitals claimed the vote was rigged and brought Moscow sanctions.

Election officials in the Donetsk region, which has been partially controlled since 2014 by Moscow-backed separatists, said voting would be door-to-door in the first few days. But it will only be possible at polling stations on the last day, Tuesday.

Putin’s move this week to call up reserve Ukrainians has sparked small protests across Russia, leading to more than 1,300 people being detained.

Flights from Russia to neighboring countries, mainly the former Soviet republics that allow Russians to enter visa-free, are almost fully booked and prices have skyrocketed, suggesting an exodus. of Russians who wanted to avoid war.

Looking exhausted and exhausted in the arrivals hall of the airport in the Armenian capital, Sergei, 44, said he fled Russia to avoid being called up.

“The situation in Russia can make anyone want to leave,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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