Zelenskyy calls Russia’s mobilization a ‘criminal’ step

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again called on Russians not to submit to “criminal mobilization”, amid protests over Moscow’s call to arms.

“The more the citizens of the Russian Federation will at least try to protect their own lives, the sooner this criminal war of Russia against the Ukrainian people will end,” the Ukrainian leader said in his evening speech.

Zelenskyy said the situation is “catastrophic” in Crimea where Russia is using the mobilization to carry out a “genocidal policy”, with the army’s appeals mainly directed at the Crimean Tatars.

Work is underway in Ukraine to exchange prisoners with Russia, he added.

Zelenskyy earlier on Sunday described the Russian mobilization – his first call since World War II – as a signal of weakness, not strength.

Although the European Union is now largely off-limits to most Russians, with direct flights halted and its land borders increasingly closed, an exodus of Russian men fleeing military service is creating divisions among European officials over the whether they should be provided with a safe haven.

The partial mobilization also sparks protests in Russia, with further anti-war demonstrations on Sunday.

In Dagestan, one of Russia’s poorest regions in the North Caucasus, police fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse more than 100 people who blocked a highway as they protested the military call for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian media reported.

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Christi C. Elwood