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In The News

Mobilization Sparks Protests And Wave Of People Trying To Flee Russia

Mobilization Sparks Protests And Wave Of People Trying To Flee Russia

Police officers detain a protester during an unauthorized rally against a partial military draft mobilization announced by Russia's President Putin.

Cameron Manley, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

In response to Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization, protesters flocked to the streets in outrage across Russia. By Thursday morning, Russian independent monitoring group OVD, puts the number of arrests as a result of the protests at 1,300.

Perhaps more telling for both public opinion and the potential effectiveness of the mobilization are mulitple indications of Russian trying to leave the country. Travel sales websites inside the country indicate that all direct flights to nations that do not require Russian visas are sold out until Friday at least.

Google Trends also show that the term “leaving Russia” saw a spike in searches among Russians over the past 24 hours as well as many searching “Aviasale”, a Russian flight sales search engine. A survey of one-way tickets to Belgrade, Tel Aviv and Istanbul shows a doubling and tripling of prices.

Meanwhile, traffic across the Finland-Russia border intensified overnight, according to Finnish officials. Some 4,824 Russians arrived in Finland via the country's eastern border on Wednesday, the Finnish border guard's head of international affairs Matti Pitkaniitty said in atweet, an increase of 1,691 compared to the same day last week.

Finland’s defense minister said it was closely monitoring the situation in Russia, adding there were grounds for tightening the country’s visa policy for Russian citizens.

Following Putin’s televised address on Wednesday, warning Western countries that Russia will use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory and announcing a partial mobilization of reservists, some Western nations have suggested they will not provide asylum to people fleeing Russia.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote on Twitter: “Due to security reasons, Latvia will not issue humanitarian or other types of visas to those Russian citizens who avoid mobilization.”

France- Libération

Germany- Süddeutsche Zeitung

Spain- ABC

Netherlands- NRC

Italy- Milenio 

Largest Prisoner Exchange Since Start Of The War

Russian, DPR and LPR servicemen arrive in Russia after prisoner swap with Ukraine

Russian Defense Ministry/TASS

The largest prisoner swap since the war began on February 24, occurred on Wednesday between Russia and Ukraine. It involved nearly 300 people, including 10 foreigners and the commanders who led a prolonged Ukrainian defense of Mariupol earlier this year.

Russia received a total of 55 prisoners, including former Ukrainian Parliament Member Viktor Medvedchuk, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was accused of high treason in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his Wednesday night address that the five Ukrainian commanders released as part of a Russia-Ukraine prisoner of war exchange on September 21 will remain in Turkey in "complete security, comfortable conditions, and under the protection of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan" until the end of the war.

"We remember all our people and try to save every Ukrainian," Zelensky said. "This is the essence of Ukraine, this is what distinguishes us from the enemy: We value every life and will do everything to save everyone who is in Russian captivity."

Ten prisoners of war from five different foreign countries, some of whom had been sentenced to death by Russian proxies in Ukraine's east, were released in a prisoner exchange brokered by Saudi Arabia. Five Britons who had been captured whilst fighting in Ukraine were also exchanged. Aiden Aslin, John Harding and Shaun Pinner, who were captured while fighting with Ukraine forces, were among those released. UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss, said the exchange ended ‘months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families’.

The freed prisoners also included U.S. citizens Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, who were captured in June while fighting in eastern Ukraine.

EU Set For New Sanctions Package

NY: Press briefing by Josep Borrell on situation in Ukraine

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Zuma

EU foreign ministers at Wednesday’s annual United Nations General Assembly in New York have agreed to put together a new sanctions package targeting "more relevant sectors of the Russian economy and continue targeting people responsible for the war of aggression in Ukraine," said EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.

Although details have not been released, Borrell said that he was confident that “unanimous agreement” would be possible for the new sanctions package, which will likely be formalized in October at the next meeting. In the meantime, Borell said the foreign ministers had agreed to increase military support and continue providing arms to Ukraine.

French daily Les Echos looks at how sanctions are quietly taking its toll on the Russian military’s ability to resupply its war effort. Here’s the English edition: How Western Sanctions Are Quietly Undermining Russia's Fighting Power

China’s New Call For Ceasefire

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin

Todd Lee/ZUMA

Following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial military mobilization, China called for a “ceasefire through dialogue and consultation.” “We always maintain that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be abided by, the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously, and all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of crises should be supported, ” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

The country’s latest statement remains consistent with its previous declarations on Ukraine, with a similar call for a ceasefire last week from Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning. China has maintained that it supports the respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, but has refused so far to clearly condemn Russia’s actions.

Gregor Schwung of German daily Die Welt reassesses the complicated relationship between China and Russia. Read the English edition: The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

Vast Disparity In Updated Russian Death Tolls

The general staff of the Ukraine army has released an update of the losses it claims to have inflicted on the Russian army and pro-Russian forces in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The figures shared on Twitter state that as many as 400 military personnel have been killed in the past 24 hours, putting it to a total of 55,510 deaths on the Russian side.

These figures are much higher than those shared on Wednesday by Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, according to The Guardian. Shoigu claims that 5,937 Russian military personnel have died since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24. None of the figures have been independently verified.

“There Is No Going Back”: Medvedev Doubles Down On Referendums, Putin Threats

Dmitry Medvedev

Yekaterina Shtukina/TASS

Deputy Chairman of Russia's National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, who has emerged as a consistent hawkish voice in Moscow, reacted to President Putin's mobilization announcement by drawing the connection between the escalation and the referendums called in occupied territories of Ukraine.

The referendums are expected to lead to the annexation of the Ukrainian territories, to become part of Russia. And thus future fighting in these areas will be considered an attack “inside” Russia.

Writing on his Telegram channel, Medvedev said the referendums planned in the Donbas republics were "of utmost importance" and would not be reversible.

"All the citizens of NATO countries have to understand that Russia chose its own path. There is no going back," he added. "Encroachment on Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self-defense.”

North Korea Denies Supplying Weapons To Russia

Tank in the DPRK Victory Day Parade

Uri Tours

“We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them," state-run news agency KCNA quotes the country's vice director general of the General Bureau of Equipment of the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

The same source also asked the United States to "keep its mouth shut" and stop spreading rumors that could "tarnish" North Korea’s image.

Earlier this month, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel suggested that Russia was “in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine."

Countdown, Awkward! U.S. Astronaut And Russian Cosmonauts Reach Space Station Together

NASA's Frank Rubio and Russian space agency Roscosmos’s Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin have safely reached the International Space Station. The three had launched together from a Russian-leased base in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and traveled aboard a Soyuz spacecraft — a rare instance of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Rubio, Prokopyevc and Petelin will spend six months on the International Space Station, where they are joining three other Russian cosmonauts, three other U.S. astronauts and one Italian astronaut.

Space cooperation between Moscow and Washington has had its ups and downs this year: In March, the U.S. introduced economic sanctions on the Russian aerospace industry in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Bibi Blinked: How The Ceasefire Deal Could Flip Israel's Whole Gaza War Logic

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed ahead a deal negotiated via Qatar, for a four-day truce and an exchange of 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners. Though the humanitarian and political pressure was mounting, Israel's all-out assault is suddenly halted, with unforeseen consequences for the future.

photo of someone holding a poster of a hostage

Families of Israeli hostages rally in Jerusalem

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Pierre Haski

Updated Nov. 22, 2023 at 8:55 p.m.


PARIS — It's the first piece of good news in 46 days of war. In the early hours of Wednesday, Israel agreed to a deal that included a four-day ceasefire and the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas — 30 children and 20 women — in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, again women and children. The real question is what happens next.

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But first, this agreement, negotiated through the intermediary of Qatar, whose role is essential in this phase, must be implemented right away. This is a complex negotiation, because unlike the previous hostage-for-prisoner exchanges, it is taking place in the midst of a major war.

On the Palestinian side, although Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is present in Doha, he does not make the decision alone — he must have the agreement of the leaders of the military wing, who are hiding somewhere in Gaza. It takes 24 hours to send a message back and forth. As you can imagine, it's not as simple as a phone call.

And on the Israeli side, a consensus had to be built around the agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right allies were opposed to the deal — in line with their eradication logic — even at the cost of Israeli lives. But the opposition of these discredited parties was ignored, and that will leave its mark.

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