WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists for a full mobilization against Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Russians to protest against the draft.
- Zelenskyy told Russians to run away or surrender if they want to survive the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday called on Russians to “fight back” against their president’s mobilization of tens of thousands of reservists.
“55 thousand Russian soldiers died in this war in six months. Tens of thousands are wounded and maimed. Want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for you to survive,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly address.
“Russian mothers! Have no doubt that the children of the top officials of your state will not be sent to the war against Ukraine. Those who make decisions in your country take care of their children. And they do not even bury your children,” the Ukrainian president continued.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization and called up 300,000 reservists. The Russian public expressed strong opposition as demonstrators across the country resulted in over 1,400 arrests on Wednesday alone.
“Protests against mobilization took place in the cities of Russia — albeit not massive, but they took place. And they take place. And this is an indicator. Not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We know the real mood in the regions of Russia,” Zelenskyy added.
Several media outlets reported of Russians fleeing the country to avoid Putin’s draft. The mass exodus caused airline tickets to sell out and traffic jams at the borders of neighboring countries.
Zelenskyy previously mentioned that 55,000 Russians have been killed in Ukraine since the war began in February. The precise death toll, however, is difficult to determine. The Pentagon said last month that the US estimates 80,000 Russian casualties in Ukraine.
If the Pentagon number is correct, Russia is facing a serious manpower problem, prompting partial mobilization. Ukraine, on the other hand, has regained a significant chunk of territory after launching a counteroffensive in previous weeks.
Putin’s mobilization proves that Russian forces are failing in Ukraine, according to Western leaders and officials.
Zelenskyy said, “Russia’s decision on mobilization is a frank admission that their regular army just crumbled.”
The Kremlin denied a report from Novaya Gazeta Europe suggesting that a secret clause in the mobilization decree allows for one million Russians to be drafted.
Zelenskyy mentioned this in his speech, “The Russian leadership is preparing to take up to a million men into the army – this is the key thing they are now silent about.”
Zelenskyy said it’s time for Russians to choose: “For men in Russia, this is a choice to die or live, to become a cripple or to preserve health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person.”