HomeNewsUkraine war: Lavrov walks out of UN security council; Russians flee country to avoid military draft – live
Ukraine war: Lavrov walks out of UN security council; Russians flee country to avoid military draft – live
September 22, 2022
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov walked out of a UN security council meeting after accusing Ukraine and its western allies of “impunity” in Donbas.
Ukraine and its allies were attempting to “impose on us a completely different narrative about Russian aggression”, Lavrov argued.
Lavrov was nearly an hour and a half late for the UN security council meeting and appeared to want to leave as soon as he finished speaking.
Britain’s foreign secretary James Cleverly spoke at the council meeting following Lavrov’s address, where he said the UK would support Ukraine all the way and for as long as it takes.
Cleverly said Russia had tried to “lay the blame on those imposing sanctions” and that “every day, the devastating consequences of Russia’s invasion become more clear”.
He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised, I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.
Speaking at the UN security council meeting, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, accused Vladimir Putin of having “shredded” international order “before our eyes”.
Russia’s president had added “fuel to the fire” by announcing mobilisation and planning “referendums” in occupied Ukrainian territory, and must be held to account for his actions, Blinken said.
We cannot – we will not – let President Putin get away with it.
Blinken said it was critical to show that “no nation can redraw the borders of another by force”, adding:
If we fail to defend this principle when the Kremlin is so flagrantly violating it, we send the message to aggressors everywhere that they can ignore it too.
International criminal court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan has said there are “reasonable grounds” to believe crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed in Ukraine.
Speaking at the UN’s security council, Khan said the ICC investigation priorities were intentional targeting of civilian objects and the transfer of populations from Ukraine, including children.
Hours after Vladimir Putin shocked Russia by announcing the first mobilisation since the second world war, Oleg received his draft papers in the mailbox, ordering him to make his way to the local recruitment centre in Kazan, the capital of the Tatarstan republic.
As a 29-year-old sergeant in the Russian reserves, Oleg said he always knew that he would be the first in line if a mobilisation was declared, but held out hope that he would not be forced to fight in the war in Ukraine.
“My heart sank when I got the call-up,” he said. “But I knew I had no time to despair.”
He quickly packed all his belongings and booked a one-way ticket to Orenburg, a southern Russian city close to the border with Kazakhstan.
“I will be driving across the border tonight,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday from the airport in Orenburg.
“I have no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again,” he added, referring to the jail sentence Russian men face for avoiding the draft.
Oleg said he was leaving behind his wife, who is due to give birth next week.
I will miss the most important day of my life. But I am simply not letting Putin turn me into a killer in a war that I want no part in.
The Kremlin’s decision to announce a partial mobilisation has led to a rush among men of military age to leave the country, likely sparking a new, possibly unprecedented brain drain in the coming days and weeks.
The Guardian spoke to over a dozen men and women who had left Russia since Putin announced the so-called partial mobilisation, or who are planning to do so in the next few days.
The Finnish government is considering ways to sharply reduce Russian tourism and transit through Finland, the country’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said.
Her remarks came after the Finnish border guard said traffic arriving at the country’s eastern border “intensified” overnight after Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military mobilisation.
Some 4,824 Russians arrived in Finland via the country’s eastern border on Wednesday, an increase of 1,691 compared with the same day last week, it said.
Traffic at the border remained elevated on Thursday but was under control, it added.
At the Vaalimaa border crossing, roughly three hours’ drive from St Petersburg, three lanes of cars each stretched for 300-400 metres at around 1.15pm local time (1015 GMT), a border official told Reuters.
A couple of hours later, traffic had quietened with cars stretching over three lanes for some 150 metres, according to a Reuters witness.
Russian deserters fleeing the partial mobilisation ordered by Vladimir Putin may be able to obtain protection in Germany, the German interior minister has said.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Nancy Faeser said:
Deserters threatened with serious repression can as a rule obtain international protection in Germany.
Anyone who courageously opposes Putin’s regime and thereby falls into great danger, can file for asylum on grounds of political persecution.
Following Putin’s mobilisation announcement yesterday, Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, said his country, which borders Russia, would not offer refuge to Russians escaping mobilisation due to “security reasons”.
Traffic at Russian border crossings with Finland and Georgia surged after Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation announcement sparked fears that men of fighting age would be called to fight on the frontline in Ukraine. Prices for one-way flights out of Moscow to the nearest foreign locations rose above $5,000 (£4,435), with most air tickets sold out completely for coming days. Photos showed long tailbacks at border crossings with Finland and Georgia.
Peskov also denied reports that an undisclosed clause in President Putin’s decree on partial mobilisation provided for 1 million reservists to be enlisted to fight in Ukraine. “This is a lie,” Peskov said in response to a report by Novaya Gazeta that quoted an unnamed Russian official as saying that the government’s real plan is to call up 1 million people.
Security forces detained more than 1,300 people in Russia overnight at protests denouncing mobilisation, a rights group said. Those figures across 38 Russian cities include at least 502 in Moscow and 524 in St Petersburg, according to the independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group. These are the largest protests seen since Putin launched his invasion in February.
More than 200 Ukrainian and foreign citizens have been released from Russian captivity, including fighters who led the defence of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, in the biggest prisoner swap since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. In return, Russia received 55 prisoners from Ukraine, including the former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Vladimir Putin accused by Ukraine of high treason.
The five Britons released from Russia overnight are meeting their families after several months of captivity in which it was feared they would be executed for fighting for Ukraine. A major diplomatic effort was behind the release of the five Britons, who together with two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croat and a Swedish national, were released by Russia to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. The five Britons have been named.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the prisoner swap carried out by Russia and Ukraine, involving almost 300 people and mediated by Turkey, was an important step towards ending the war. Erdoğan was quoted as saying that the exchange occurred as a result of the diplomatic traffic he conducted with Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy and Russia’s President Putin.
The UK’s ministry of defence has described the mobilisation as an admission that Russia has “exhausted its supply of willing volunteers to fight in Ukraine”.It said “Russia is likely to struggle with the logistical and administrative challenges of even mustering the 300,000 personnel. It will probably attempt to stand up new formations with many of these troops, which are unlikely to be combat effective for months.”
Poland has distributed iodine tablets to regional fire departments to give to people in the event of radioactive exposure, after concerns about fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The deputy interior minister, Błażej Poboży, said these were “routine, pre-emptive actions” to protect people in the event of a situation “which I hope will not happen”.
Hello, it’s Léonie Chao-Fong with you as we unpack the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has thanked Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his “facilitation” of the release of foreign citizens from Russian captivity.
The Russian national airline, Aeroflot, said it would refund people who were unable to fly as planned if they were called up as part of Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation.
Russian citizens subject to conscription are entitled to a refund on their plane ticket, the company said in a statement.
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has been speaking at the security council meeting, where he said Russia’s war on Ukraine “shows no sign of letting up”.
Addressing the UN security council meeting, Guterres said talk of a nuclear conflict was “totally unacceptable”.
Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state through the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN charter and international law, he continued.
On the subject of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Guterres described the situation as remaining “of grave concern”.
All attacks on nuclear facilities must end and the purely civilian nature of such plants must be reestablished.
Any damage to nuclear infrastructure, whether deliberate or not, could have terrible consequences for people around the planet.
Guterres welcomed yesterday’s release of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, describing the prisoner swap as a “welcome development”.
Our Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth has shared a tweet suggesting protests may be taking place in Dagestan against the mobilisation.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the prisoner swap carried out by Russia and Ukraine, involving almost 300 people and mediated by Turkey, was an important step towards ending the war, Turkish broadcaster NTV has reported.
Erdoğan was quoted as telling reporters in New York that the exchange occurred as a result of the diplomatic traffic he conducted with Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy and Russia’s President Putin.
“Turkey has now received the result of its belief in the power of dialogue and diplomacy,” he was cited as saying at the end of his visit to the US.
“This exchange of prisoners, which took place under the mediation of Turkey, is an important step towards ending the war,” Reuters report he said.
“We will continue our efforts to achieve peace and stability in the future. For example, as soon as we return, we will call the leaders again and continue our telephone diplomacy with them,” he added.
The Kremlin has been moved to bluntly deny reports by the independent Novaya Gazeta Europe news service that an undisclosed clause in President Vladimir Putin’s decree on partial mobilisation provided for 1 million reservists to be enlisted to fight in Ukraine.[See 13.01]
“This is a lie,” the presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The story hinges on the seventh paragraph in Putin’s decree, which in public versions is redacted and simply marked “for official use”.
The seventh point is hidden in the document, which attracted the attention of journalists. As Peskov explained, this paragraph is for official use, so he cannot disclose its content. The spokesperson clarified that it was about the number of conscripts.
Earlier today Peskov dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation as “exaggerated”. In November 2021, Peskov said reports Russia intended to invade Ukraine were a “hollow and unfounded” invention of the western media.
Reuters reports that Poland has distributed iodine tablets to regional fire departments to give to people in the event of radioactive exposure, after concerns about fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Shelling at the site of Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant – has damaged buildings close to its six reactors and cut power cables, risking a nuclear catastrophe that would affect neighbouring countries. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling around the plant, which Russia has occupied.
“After the media reports about battles near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, we decided ahead of time to take protective action to distribute iodine,” the deputy interior minister, Błażej Poboży, told private broadcaster Radio Zet.
“I would like to reassure all citizens that these are routine, pre-emptive actions that are to protect us in the event of a situation which I hope will not happen,” he added.
Iodine is considered a way of protecting the body against conditions such as thyroid cancer in case of radioactive exposure.
Sweden’s foreign affairs minister, Ann Linde, has condemned the arrests of anti-war protesters in Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s first military draft since the second world war.
Writing on Twitter, Linde described the demonstrators as “courageous” who had her “deep respect”.
The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth writes that the actual number of reservists called up to support Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine could exceed the 300,000 figure stated by the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.