Screengrab of videos shared by protest monitoring group OVD-Info
President Vladimir Putin's announcement to start military mobilisation amid the ongoing war with Ukraine has triggered huge anti-war protests in Russia. Cracking down on the protesters, the Russian security forces have made over one thousand arrests since Wednesday as people hit the streets opposing Putin's announcement.
According to reports, 3,00,000 reservists will be called up as Russia's war with Ukraine continues to destabilise the region for nearly seven months now. Putin's "warning" to the West came a few days before the "referendum" in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.
Here is all you need to know about Putin's statement and ongoing protests in Russia.
Where are the protests happening?
According to reports, anti-war protests have broken out in 38 cities in Russia, while 1,311 people were arrested by Wednesday evening. Over 500 protestors were reportedly arrested from Moscow and St Petersburg alone. The protests were called by the anti-war movement Vesna Youth Democratic Movement who Russian military personnel to not "participate in Putin's 'special operation'.
"You are needed in Russia by those who love you. For the authorities, you are just cannon fodder, where you will be squandered without any meaning or purpose," Vesna said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the government said the protests organised by an "extremely small number of participants" were brought under control.
"In a number of regions, there were attempts to stage unauthorised actions which brought together an extremely small number of participants," Russian interior ministry official Irina Volk told media.
"These were all stopped. And those persons who violated laws were detained and taken to police stations for investigation and establish their responsibility."
The authorities in Moscow have warned that taking part in protests or organising would be punishable with a jail of up to 15 years.
Are Russians fleeing?
Reports suggested that Russians are fleeing out of the country fearing being drafted after Putin's announcement. An AP report said that "large number" of people have booked "one-way tickets". There has also been a price surge in tickets while some flights sold out immediately.
"The price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai increased within minutes before jumping again, reaching as high as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class fare," AP reported.
Amid this, members of the European Union--Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia-- have said they will not accept refugees from neighboring Russia.
"A refusal to fulfil one's civic duty in Russia or a desire to do so does not constitute sufficient grounds for being granted asylum in another country", Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu was quoted as saying by Reuters.
What did Putin say?
On Wednesday, Putin announced the decision of military mobilisation. "We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience," Putin said.
"It's not a bluff," he said as he sent out a warning of using "various means of destruction".
"To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of Nato countries and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal."
Putin, in the televised address, said that the move to "partially mobilise" is being done for the protection of the "sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories."
While the reports in Western media have estimated the number of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to be in tens of thousands, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 5,937 soldiers have been killed so far.
World leaders condemn Putin's move
World leaders have condemned Putin's announcement of military mobilisation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for "punishment" for Russia for its action in Ukraine.
"Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory. Punishment for the murders of thousands of people. Punishment for tortures and humiliations of women and men," Zelensky told while addressing the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
He stressed the need for a "special tribunal to hold Russia accountable" and said Russia "should pay for this war with its own assets."
US President Joe Biden slammed Russia for "shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter". "Just today Russian President Vladimir Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe in reckless disregard of the global non-proliferation regime," Biden said. He dubbed the referendum in certain regions of Ukraine as a "sham".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Putin's announcement was unacceptable. He said the mobilisation order and threats to use nuclear weapons were a sign that Russia's Ukraine invasion is failing.
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