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Russia begins mobilizing troops to fight Ukraine

Moscow launched a compulsory military muster on Thursday to shore up a faltering war effort in Ukraine. Officials said thousands of Russian men had volunteered, even though they had fled the country to avoid being forced into battle.

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

Moscow took these steps after Ukrainian forces recaptured most of northeastern Kharkov.

“I don’t want to go to war,” he told AFP. “I don’t want to die in this senseless war. This is a fratricidal war.”

Most of those arriving at Armenian airports from Moscow were men of military age, many of whom were hesitant to speak.

US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken on Thursday called on Putin to hold him accountable for confronting Russia at a Security Council session where the UN cataloged abuses in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has refused to meet Blinken in person since the February invasion, has lashed out at the Western accusations.

Diplomatic confrontations escalated on Thursday when officials stationed by the Kremlin in areas of Ukraine controlled by Moscow forces pledged to proceed with polls on the annexation this week.

Vladimir Sardo, the installed chief of Kherson’s Moscow, which fell early in the Russian invasion, said a referendum would be held in his area regardless of the criticism.

“People are waiting and demanding that this vote take place soon,” he added.

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

The integration of the war-torn region into Russia would represent a major escalation of the conflict as Russia could claim to be defending its own territory from Ukrainian forces.

Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement to social media that the means included “strategic nuclear weapons.” He predicted that the voting area would be “integrated into Russia”.

The referendum is reminiscent of a similar vote in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Western capitals said the vote was rigged and imposed sanctions on Moscow accordingly.

Putin’s move to call in Ukrainian reservists this week sparked small protests across Russia, detaining more than 1,300 people.

Lost and exhausted-looking in the arrival hall of an airport in Armenia’s capital, 44-year-old Sergei said he fled Russia to avoid being summoned.

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first published as Russia begins mobilizing troops to fight Ukraine

Russia begins mobilizing troops to fight Ukraine

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