Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called on Russians to resist the partial mobilisation announced by President Vladimir Putin, which has sparked protests and a fresh exodus out of the country.
“55,000 Russian soldiers died in these six months of war…,” Zelensky said in his daily address.
“Want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender” to the Ukrainian army.
“You are already complicit in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians. Because you were silent. Because you are silent,” Zelensky added.
“And now it’s time for you 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 (Putin),” Zelensky continued.
More than 1,300 people were arrested at demonstrations across Russia on Wednesday after the announcement of a partial mobilisation.
There were also reports of a mass exodus following the announcement. Flights out of Russia to the neighbouring countries that allow Russians visa-free entry were nearly entirely booked, while prices skyrocketed.
On Thursday the Kremlin dismissed as “fake” reports that Russians eligible for mobilisation were rushing for the exit.