Russians kick as Putin orders another 300,000 fighters to Ukraine

Putin

Putin: orders massive war call-up

Agency Report

Russia pushed ahead on Thursday with its biggest conscription since World War Two while Ukraine demanded “just punishment” for a seven-month-old invasion that has shaken the world.

President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilise another 300,000 Russians to fight escalates a war that has already killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised cities, damaged the global economy and revived Cold War confrontation.

The mass conscription may be the riskiest domestic move of Putin’s two decades in power after Kremlin promises it would not happen and a string of battlefield failures in Ukraine.

Anti-war protests in 38 Russian cities saw 1,400 people arrested on Wednesday, a monitoring group said.

Some had been served a summons to report to enlistment offices on Thursday, the first full day of conscription, independent news outlets said.

However, flights out of Russia sold out after Putin’s announcement.

“Every normal person is (concerned), it’s horrible,” said one man, identifying himself only as Sergey, disembarking in Belgrade after a flight from Moscow.

“It is ok to be afraid of the war and such things.”

Ukraine, however, urged the United Nations to create a special tribunal and strip Moscow of its U.N. Security Council veto power as a diplomatic showdown loomed on Thursday in New York.

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, dressed in his trademark green military T-shirt, told world leaders by video at the annual U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

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The Security Council has been unable to take significant action on Ukraine because Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member, along with the United States, France, Britain, and China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face Ukrainian and Western counterparts when U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan brief the 15-member council later on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spoken to Putin numerous times this year, said the goal remained for a negotiated peace despite the “mistake” of conscription.

MISSILE STRIKES

On the ground, Russia’s military fired nine missiles on the city of Zaporizhzhia, hitting a hotel and a power station, said regional governor Oleksandr Starukh.

At least one person was killed with others trapped under rubble, he said. Zaporizhzhia is about 50 km (31 miles) from the nuclear plant of the same name.

Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia had in the last 24 hours launched eight missile and 16 air strikes and fired 115 anti-aircraft missiles at military and civilian targets, mostly in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas in the south and east respectively.

Putin says Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to demilitarise neighbouring Ukraine, rid it of dangerous nationalists and defend Moscow from transatlantic military alliance NATO. Kyiv and the West call Russia’s actions an unprovoked, imperialist land grab to reconquer a country that shook off Russian domination with the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and describes accusations of rights abuses as a smear campaign by Western powers intent on destroying a resurgent Russia. read more

Putin also announced moves to annex four Ukrainian provinces – about 15% of Ukrainian territory – and threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, declaring: “It’s not a bluff.”

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