Russia arrests over 1,300 after Putin mobilizes troops

Russian police officers block the street during an unauthorized anti-war protest on Arbat Street September 21, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.

Contributor | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

More than 1,300 people have been arrested in Russia after President Vladimir Putin called in additional forces to fight in Ukraine, according to independent human rights group OVD-Info.

Around 1,307 people were reportedly arrested in 39 cities across the country as of Thursday morning, with most arrests in the capital Moscow (at least 527) and St Petersburg (at least 480).

Nearly 50 people were arrested in Yekaterinburg, the country’s fourth-largest city, and dozens were also arrested in several Siberian cities.

Prices for one-way flights from Russia continued to rise after Putin’s announcement and pictures social media seemed to show long queues at the border posts.

Putin made a rare, taped televised address on Wednesday to order a partial militarization of reservists to bolster Ukraine’s armed forces, a deeply unpopular move that has sparked nationwide protests despite Russia’s tough laws against criticism of the military and the war in Ukraine triggered.

Despite invading Ukraine in February, Russia has not yet declared war on Ukraine, describing its invasion as a “special military operation”.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the mobilization of troops would result in 300,000 additional personnel being called up for military operations in Ukraine.

An activist takes part in an unauthorized protest on Arbat Street September 21, 2022 in Moscow, Russia. The sign plays with the word mobilization as “No Burial”.

Contributor | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

The Russian Interior Ministry said Russian Interior Ministry soldiers took “additional measures” to respond to the anti-war protests and “to ensure public order”.

“Complications of the operational situation were prevented,” the ministry said.

“Attempts were made in a number of regions to carry out unauthorized actions, in which only an extremely small number of participants took part. All were stopped and those who had committed crimes were arrested and taken to the Territorial Police Units for investigation and prosecution.”

“Inconsiderate” and “irresponsible”

In what was widely interpreted as an escalation speech, Putin warned the West that he was ready to use any means available to protect Russian territory. His comments were taken as a thinly veiled threat that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons.

Putin has alluded to Russia’s nuclear weapons at various points in the conflict with Ukraine. Still, there are doubts whether Moscow would actually use such a weapon, as analysts say it could herald the start of a third world war.

US President Joe Biden condemned Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons and urged allied UN leaders to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a speech at the UN headquarters in New York City, Biden accused the Kremlin of “reckless” and “irresponsible” threats and said, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly said in an interview with German online TV channel Bild on Wednesday that he did not believe the world would allow Putin to use nuclear weapons.

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.