Many Russians detained while protesting against President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation have been handed draft papers while in custody, the OVD-Info rights group said on Thursday. At least 1,310 protesters had been detained, many of whom had been presented with summonses to enlist. One protester in Moscow was told he faces a 10-year jail sentence for refusing to receive an enlistment order, reported OVD-Info.
Journalists have also reportedly been ordered to enlist. Russian TV channel Dozhd said that Artem Kriger, a journalist at the SOTA news site, was given a draft summons after being arrested while covering anti-mobilisation protests in Moscow.
Since Putin on Wednesday announced the first large-scale mobilisation in Russia since World War Two, flights to leave the country have sold out and protests have been held – and swiftly broken up by police – in cities across Russia. Flights to South Africa were costing as much as €44,000, while regular European flights are commonly costing 10 times the usual amount. The Kremlin said the reports of an exodus were “exaggerated”.
The United States is prepared to impose additional economic costs on Russia in conjunction with American allies if Russia moves forward with Ukraine annexation, the White House announced Friday. Russia has been planning what the US has described as sham referendums in portions of eastern Ukraine in what is seen as a step toward annexing these territories. Putin could use the referendums to find the “legal pretence” for an attack in line with the conditions Moscow has set for the use of nuclear weapons.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said any weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used to “defend” territory incorporated into Russia from Ukraine. Although the Russian army doesn’t have full control over these territories, the votes could be used to formally annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Once formally admitted to the Russian Federation, any efforts from Ukraine to take them back could be interpreted as a direct attack on Russia.
Finnish ministers on Friday evening announced that the government will prohibit Russian tourists from crossing its borders over the next few days. “The aspiration and purpose is to significantly reduce the number of people coming to Finland from Russia,” president Sauli Niinistö told state broadcaster Yle.
Russia will continue its communication with the United Nations about a deal to export grain from Ukrainian ports, but says concrete results are needed, Tass news agency cited a senior official as saying on Friday. It also cited deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin as saying Russia had a positive assessment of the UN’s efforts to resume the export of Russian fertilizers.
Ukraine said on Friday it had shot down four Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones used by Russia’s armed forces, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to complain that Tehran was harming Ukrainian citizens. Ukraine and the United States have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, something Tehran has denied. Zelenskiy has asked his foreign ministry to respond to the use of Iranian equipment, spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said.