Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on Russians to protest the partial military mobilisation announced in the country.
Or become Ukrainian prisoners of war!
Those are the options for your survival,” Zelensky said in his daily video address.
He said 55,000 Russian soldiers had already died in Ukraine.
Zelensky also appealed to mothers and wives of Russian men called up for service.
“Do not doubt this, the children of your country’s leaders will not take part in the war against Ukraine.
“Those making decisions in your country protect their children.
And your children aren’t even buried,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier decreed the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists in order to garner more soldiers for the military’s faltering campaign in Ukraine.
Addressing Ukrainians, Zelensky said Russia’s partial mobilisation was a signal of Kiev’s strength.
He said it means the war will now no longer be just a televised event for Russians, but will enter real life.
Nothing will change for Ukrainians, who will continue to fight for the liberation of their country, Zelensky said with conviction.
Referring to the UN General Assembly, Zelensky said Ukraine would now be supported by an even wider circle of states in the international community.
Russia’s defence ministry on Thursday announced that 55 of its servicemen had been returned to Russia.
The ministry said this was the largest prisoner exchange deal with Ukraine since the start of the war.
In its daily briefing, the ministry said the fighters from Russia’s armed forces and its proxies had been transported to Russia by a military plane and were undergoing medical checks.
The surprise swap involved almost 300 people, including 10 foreigners and Ukrainian commanders who had led a prolonged defence of the port city of Mariupol.
The Russian-installed separatist head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk had been freed as part of the deal.
Medvedchuk, a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, headed a banned pro-Russian party in Ukraine and was facing treason charges.
The swap was brokered by Saudi Arabia.
It came just before referendums in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia that were likely to pave the wave for Russia to formally declare the annexation of more swathes of its neighbour.
Ukraine on Thursday demanded for a “just punishment” over a seven-month-old invasion sending shock waves around the world amid Russia biggest conscription since World War II.
Ukraine had also urged the United Nations to create a special tribunal and strip Moscow of its UN Security Council veto power as a diplomatic showdown loomed in New York. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told world leaders at the annual UN General Assembly on Wednesday that “a crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment.
’’ Earlier, President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilise another 300,000 Russians to fight, signaling a major escalation of a war.
The war between Ukraine and Russia has already killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised cities, damaged the global economy and revived Cold War confrontation.
The conscription campaign may be the riskiest domestic move of Putin’s two decades in power, after Kremlin promises that it would not happen and a string of battlefield failures in Ukraine.
Monitoring group OVD-Info said nearly 1,400 people in 38 Russian cities were detained in anti-war protests on Wednesday.
Independent news outlets said some of those arrested were served summons to report to military enlistment offices on Thursday, the first full day of conscription.
Flights out of Russia has also been selling out after Putin’s announcement.
“Every normal person is (concerned), it’s horrible,” said one man, identifying himself only as Sergey, disembarking in Belgrade after a flight from Moscow.
“It is ok to be afraid of the war and such thing,” the man added.
The Security Council has been unable to take meaningful action on Ukraine because Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member along with the United States, France, Britain, and China.
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell has promised new sanctions targeting Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s latest escalation in his war against Ukraine.
“We decided to bring forward as soon as possible additional restrictive measures against Russia in coordination with partners,’’ Borrell said.
He said this late on Wednesday following a meeting of EU foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. The meeting was convened by Borrell after Putin ordered the partial mobilisation of reservists in order to bolster his military’s flagging efforts in Ukraine.
“On Sept. 21, Russia chose a path of confrontation by announcing a partial mobilisation in Russia, by supporting the organisation of illegal ‘referenda’ in the Ukrainian territories.
In which currently being occupied by Russia and by threatening again with the use of weapons of mass destruction, Borrell said in a statement.
“The references to nuclear weapons do not shake our determination, resolve and unity to stand by Ukraine.
“Our comprehensive support to Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty as long as it takes,’’ he added.
Earlier in the day, Putin inked a decree to partially mobilise the reservists in the country’s armed forces, sparking protests in several Russian cities.
As Putin looked for ways to throw more resources at his troubled invasion of Ukraine, he warned other states not to attack Russian territory and alluded to nuclear retribution if someone chose to do so.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will absolutely use all available means to protect Russia and our people.
“This is not a bluff,’’ he said in a televised address.
Hundreds of Russian demonstrators were detained at rallies against the mobilisation measure.
Civil rights group OVD-Info counted 1,350 arrests by Wednesday evening across 38 cities across the vast country, where anti-government rallies were routinely repressed.
It said 500 demonstrators were held in Moscow and 556 in St Petersburg.
Putin announced the mobilisation as he said that he would support planned referendums in the occupied regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya later this week, in which people would be asked to join Russia.
The vote had been panned as a sham by the West, as it was being conducted during a military occupation and without outside oversight.
However, if Putin were to be able to report that these areas had voted to become Russian, any attack by Ukraine to free them would fall under his threat of doing anything to protect his country’s territorial integrity.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said some 300,000 reservists of 25 million available would be called up.
Shoigu also put the losses suffered by Russia’s army during its invasion of Ukraine at 5,937 personnel.
It was the first time in months that Russia had officially published figures.
Independent observers, however, believed Russia’s losses were significantly higher.
The call to mobilisation prompted criticism from Ukraine and further abroad, with many saying it was a sign that Putin’s gambit was failing.
“All this can only be explained against the background of the fact that the Russian attack on Ukraine has not been successful,’’ a government spokesperson quoted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as saying in Berlin on Wednesday.
S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Putin’s latest move “reflects the Kremlin’s struggles on the battlefield, the unpopularity of the war, and Russians’ unwillingness to fight in it.
’’ “President Putin is not operating from a position of strength,’’ Blinken said in a statement.
“Rather, this is another sign of his failing mission.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen echoed Blinken’s comments, telling CNN Putin was showing his weakness.
’’ Von der Leyen also said that Putin “will have to pay massive costs’’ for the invasion, adding that we would never bow to blackmail over Putin’s nuclear threat.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the UNGA the move showed Russia was not interested in peace.
“They talk about the talks but announce a military mobilization.
They talk about the talks but announce pseudo referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine,’’ Zelensky said.
“Russia wants war.
S. President Joe Biden told the assembly that the war “is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple.
And Ukraine’s right to exist as a people.
’’ Meanwhile, Kiev announced that 215 people, including fighters captured at the Azovstal steelworks in Ukraine, were exchanged for pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk and Russian soldiers in a major prisoner swap.
Three EU leaders on Wednesday said President Vladimir Putin’s latest steps in Russia’s war against Ukraine showed his panic and the European Union would continue supporting Kyiv. The Belgian, Dutch prime ministers and the chairman of all the EU’s 27 national leaders spoke after Putin mobilised more troops for Ukraine.
They backed a plan to annex swathes of the country and issued a nuclear threat to the West. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “It is all a sign of panic.
His rhetoric on nuclear weapons is something we have heard many times before.
“It leaves us cold, it is all part of the rhetoric we know.
I will advise to remain calm.
” His Belgian peer, Alexander de Croo, also urged a calm response between not provoking Russia, and supporting Ukraine.
“We must not add fuel to the fire,” he said, adding ” We must be clear in our position and continue to support Ukraine.
” The EU leaders’ chairman, European Council President Charles Michel, said the bloc would not be scared away from supporting Ukraine.
“In this war, there is only one aggressor, Russia, and one aggressed country, Ukraine.
EU’s support to Ukraine will remain steadfast,” he said.
While there have been no immediate comments from the leaders of Germany or France, the EU’s executive European Commission said Putin’s “reckless” nuclear gamble had to stop.
A foreign policy spokesman for the European Commission, Peter Stano, said “Putin is doing a nuclear gamble.
He’s using the nuclear element as part of his arsenal of terror, it’s unacceptable.
’’ Stano said there would be “consequences from our part” but declined to announce any new sanctions against Russia.
He said “sham, illegal referenda” that Moscow backed in Ukrainian regions it occupies would not be recognised.
“This is just another proof that Putin is not interested in peace, that he’s interested in escalating this war of aggression.
This is also yet another sign of his desperation,” he said.
Asian stocks closed lower on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization in the country, bringing geopolitical tensions to the forefront.
In a televised address, Putin said the partial mobilisation of its 2-million-strong military reserves was to defend Russian territories, claiming the West wanted to destroy Russia and did not want peace in Ukraine.
Worries about aggressive Federal Reserve policy tightening also kept investors on their toes ahead of the U.
S. Federal Reserve’s much-anticipated interest-rate decision later in the day.
China’s Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.17 per cent to 3,117.18 as the Asian Development Bank cut its economic growth forecast for China and also lowered its outlook for developing Asia. He cited the Ukraine conflict, Beijing’s COVID Zero policy and the central bank’s efforts to combat inflation.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.79 per cent to 18,444.62 on Fed jitters.
Japanese shares hit a two-week low as caution prevailed ahead of the Fed, BoJ and BoE meetings.
The Nikkei average closed at 1.36 per cent lower at 27,313.13, marking its lowest closing level since July 19. The broader Topix index slipped 1.36 per cent to 1,920.80, its weakest close since Sept. 7. Air conditioner manufacturer Daikin Industries led losses to close down nearly 4 per cent while Japan Steel Works soared 4.1 per cent in spite of the company lowering its profit forecast for the current fiscal year.
Seoul stocks fell ahead of a widely expected hefty rate hike from the U.
S. Federal Reserve.
The Kospi average dropped 0.87 per cent to 2,347.21. Samsung SDI, Naver and Kakao all lost around 2 per cent.
Shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering surged 8.9 per cent amid heightened anticipation that the company’s privatization would gather steam down the road.
Australian markets tumbled to hit a two-month low, with commodity-related stocks pacing the declines on fears of a global recession.
The benchmark S& 200 index gave up 1.56 per cent to end at 6,700.20, marking its third session of fall in four.
The broader All Ordinaries index fell 1.54 per cent to 6,921.40. Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S& 50 index slipped 0.62 per cent to settle at 11,498.95. U.
S. stocks fell sharply overnight, and Treasury yields surged to multi-year highs as caution gripped markets ahead of the Fed’s rate hike announcement.
Ford’s warning of big problems with supply chains and input costs also raised concerns about the earnings outlook.
The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite both shed around 1 per cent while the S&P 500 dropped 1.1 per cent.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday said Russia’s mobilisation order is a sign of panic at the Kremlin, that should not be taken as a direct threat of full-out war with the West. “The mobilisation, calling for referenda in the Donetsk, it is all a sign of panic.
“His rhetoric on nuclear weapons is something we have heard many times before, and it leaves us cold,” Rutte told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
“It is all part of the rhetoric we know.
I would advise to remain calm,” he added.
Russian-backed separatists plan to hold referendums in the occupied areas of eastern Ukraine, a move that has triggered a chorus of condemnation from Western leaders.
The vote will pave the way for the formal annexation of swaths of territory by Russia after nearly seven months of the war with its neighbour, a former Soviet republic.
The self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), which President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent states just before the invasion on Feb. 24, have said they want referendums on joining Russia from Sept. 23 to 27 – that is from this Friday to Tuesday.
The Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, which are yet to be recognised as independent states by Russia, have also said they will hold their own votes.
Russia does not fully control any of the four regions, with only about 60 per cent of the Donetsk region in Russian hands.
Russia controls more than 90,000sq km (34,750sq miles) of territory, or about 15 per cent of Ukraine’s total area – roughly the size of Hungary or Portugal.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. With Crimea and the territory in the four other regions, Russia would gain an area about the same size as the U.
S. state of Pennsylvania.
Due to threat of Ukrainian attacks, Russia has withdrawn its Kilo-class submarines from the annexed Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, according to a British intelligence report.
The ships of the Black Sea Fleet have been moved from their home port of Sevastopol to the southern Russian port city of Novorossiysk The British Ministry of Defence made the disclosure on Tuesday in its daily intelligence update on the Ukraine war.
The reason is most likely that the Ukrainian capability to attack at a greater distance has increased and, therefore, the security situation in Crimea has changed.
It said, “In the last two months, the fleet headquarters and its main naval aviation airfield have been attacked.
’’ The ministry said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea was also intended to guarantee the security of the Black Sea Fleet.
“Base security has now been directly undermined by Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine,’’ it said.
The British Ministry of Defence has been publishing daily information on the war since it began at the end of February.
The British Government wants to counter the Russian narrative and keep its allies informed.
Moscow has accused London of a targeted disinformation campaign.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday told a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that the group should consider staging its own major sports competition.
Putin said in a speech at a summit of SCO countries in Samarkand, Uzbekistan: “There are good opportunities to intensify sports cooperation with the prospect of holding major sporting events under the auspices of the SCO.
“To do this, we can think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.
” Putin made clear that he wanted the group, which includes the world’s two most populous countries —- China and India —- to become a significant global counter-weight to the American-led West. The West has turned its back on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
A Russian doping scandal, involving revelations of a state-backed system across many sports, had trailed the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
This has meant that Russian athletes’ participation at subsequent Olympics has been severely restricted.
Those that have competed have only been allowed to do so under a neutral flag.
China, however, has hosted both a Summer and a Winter Olympics since 2008. But both events were to some extent overshadowed by war or preparation for war between Russia and former Soviet republics: Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2022. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin whose country is an observer at the SCO, told the summit: “We suggest the possibility of holding a complex of sports competitions within the framework of the SCO: summer events in 2024, winter in 2026.” These dates broadly coincide with those of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics —- both being held in western Europe.
The SCO is a security bloc established in 2001. It comprises China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four post-Soviet Central Asian states, and is in the process of admitting Iran, another state at odds with the West. OLAL(
PA ) China’s official delegation is expected to be barred from attending Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s lying in state ahead of the state funeral.
Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle will prevent them entering Westminster Hall while seven MPs and peers remain sanctioned by Beijing, a parliamentary source told the PA news agency.
Two sanctioned Tory MPs, Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, have been raising concerns about the delegation’s possible attendance, saying it was “extraordinary” they had received an invitation.
Hoyle was upholding his position on barring Chinese state officials while the parliamentarians remain sanctioned, the source said, confirming the story first reported by the Politico website.
A House of Commons spokesman said, “We do not comment on security matters,” while Hoyle’s spokesman also declined to comment.
In a letter to Hoyle earlier this week, Duncan Smith and Loughton, along with crossbench peer David Alton and Labour’s Helena Kennedy, warned against giving the delegation access.
“We are greatly concerned to hear that the government of China has been invited to attend the state funeral next week, despite other countries – Russia, Belarus and Myanmar – being excluded.
“Given that the United Kingdom parliament has voted to recognise the genocide committed by the Chinese government against the Uighur people, it is extraordinary that the architects of that genocide should be treated in any more favourable way than those countries who have been barred,” they wrote.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is not scheduled to attend the Westminster Abbey funeral on Monday, instead sending his deputy, Wang Qishan.
Xi met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan on Thursday.
Last September, Hoyle and his counterpart in the upper chamber, John McFall, blocked Chinese ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, from visiting parliament.
The speaker of the House of Commons argued at the time it would not be “appropriate” for the ambassador to meet at the Commons while seven British parliamentarians remain sanctioned.
Six months earlier, China imposed sanctions on seven parliamentarians, also including Conservative members of parliament (MPs) Tom Tugendhat, Nusrat Ghani and Neil O’Brien.
They are all vocal critics of Beijing, having spoken out against the treatment of the Uighur people in Xinjiang.
China hit the parliamentarians with sanctions shortly after Britain – along with the U.
S., Canada and European Union – placed sanctions on Chinese officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses in the country’s autonomous north-west territory.
The government has increasingly signalled a willingness to take a harder line against China and, as foreign secretary, Liz Truss was seen as a key voice pushing for a tougher stance.
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