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HomeNewsUkraine’s Zelensky Urges Russians to Keep Protesting Mobilization Orders

Ukraine’s Zelensky Urges Russians to Keep Protesting Mobilization Orders


Kyiv reiterated calls for Russian men summoned to fight in Ukraine to lay down their arms as soon as they arrive in the country, as protests against mobilization continued in Russia and authorities there sought to curb an exodus of fighting-age males.

In a video address late Sunday, Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky

called on Russians to continue protesting against the draft and urged them to desert or give themselves up to Ukrainian troops as prisoners of war. Ukraine has pledged to treat Russian POWs fairly.

“Fight so that they do not send to their deaths your children and those whom they may take as part of this criminal Russian mobilization. Because if you come to take the lives of our children—I tell you this as a father—we will not let you out alive,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv was working on bringing all fighters and civilians captured by Russia home.


Ukranian Presidential Press Office

Mr. Zelensky spoke as political rallies in Russia continued to test support for President

Vladimir Putin,

who on Sept. 21 announced what he called a partial mobilization of reservists aimed at reversing Russia’s recent battlefield losses in Ukraine and capturing the Donbas area in Ukraine’s east, which Mr. Putin sees as a priority military objective.

Tensions grew on Monday as two military-recruitment centers came under attack and lines grew at the border, with draft-age men seeking to leave the country. A Russian man opened fire at a military-recruiting station in Siberia, wounding its commander, hours after another rammed a car into the entrance of a different Russian recruitment center and set fire to it with Molotov cocktails.

Footage posted to social media showed long lines of cars waiting to cross at Russia’s borders with Georgia and Kazakhstan. One Russian reservist said in an interview that he had waited 12 hours to cross into Kazakhstan and later traveled to the Kazakh capital, Astana, on a train packed with Russian fighting-age men.

Russian police officers detain a participant in an unauthorized protest against the mobilization in Moscow.



People walk toward a customs checkpoint between Russia and Georgia.


-/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The U.K. Defense Ministry on Monday said the initial tranches of mobilized Russian men had begun arriving at military bases for training, after thousands of call-up papers had been issued. The ministry said the mobilization will be a major logistical challenge for Russia. Because Russia’s military is oriented around professional service, many of the drafted troops won’t have had any military experience in years, the ministry said.

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilization, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate,” it said.

Following Ukraine’s success in retaking thousands of square miles of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region this month, heavy fighting was reported Monday morning, including in the area of Lyman in the eastern Donetsk region.

Unconfirmed reports in the past 24 hours described Russian lines collapsing in some areas while video posted on social media was described as showing Ukrainian armor moving through at least one former Russian position littered with burned-out vehicles.

The Ukrainian president’s call for dissent in Russia also came on the fourth day of voting in staged referendums taking place in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, which Mr. Putin is widely expected to annex this week following the announcement of rigged results in favor of those areas joining Russia.

A Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine.


juan barreto/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

An abandoned Russian tank near Izyum, in northeastern Ukraine.


yasuyoshi chiba/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

On Monday, Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service published the names of four people who it said were collaborationist officials playing primary roles in organizing the votes on Russian-occupied territory, after taking part in Kremlin-funded seminars in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

“The SBU warns that crimes against the foundations of Ukrainian national statehood do not have a statute of limitations, so all those guilty will answer for their deeds before the law!” the SBU said on its website. The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to confirm its claims.

Meanwhile, relatives of Ukrainian fighters released from Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange last week, Mr. Zelensky said, would soon be able to see their husbands, sons and brothers in Turkey, where they are currently staying after the swap, which was brokered in part by Turkish President

Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kremlin-orchestrated referendums to annex territory Russia controls in Ukraine started in four regions on Friday. People in Russia said goodbye to their loved ones after President Vladimir Putin’s call-up for troops to fight in Ukraine. Photo: Associated Press

The exchange included senior Ukrainian commanders and was hailed as a victory by Kyiv, but it provoked criticism among nationalists in Russia who questioned the release of members of a unit whose far-right origins have been used by Kremlin propaganda to discredit the Ukrainian leadership.

Mr. Zelensky said Kyiv was working on bringing all fighters and civilians captured by Russia home, adding that the success of that campaign depended on the speed of Ukraine’s advance into Russian-occupied territory and the number of Russian soldiers it was itself able to capture and swap for its own.

“However difficult it may be, we should free all of our people, all Ukrainians. We have not forgotten about anyone,” he said. “The more Russian soldiers our forces detain, the faster we’ll be able to free our fighters, our heroes from Russian captivity.”

Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

said Monday that the U.S. is providing $457.5 million in new civilian security aid to Ukraine, including for efforts to prosecute atrocities perpetrated by Russia’s forces and direct assistance for Ukrainian law enforcement.

Write to Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected]

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