Putin toughens penalty for desertion, refusal to fight in Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

The move comes as the Kremlin holds referendums in occupied regions of Ukraine weeks after its defeat on the battlefield.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing severe punishments for voluntarily surrendering to the enemy, deserting and refusing to fight, up to 10 years in prison, just days after giving the order. partial mobilization out of 300,000 combat reserves in Ukraine.

The move comes one day Moscow replaced its top logistics general after a series of setbacks in the seven-month war in Ukraine. “Army General Dmitry Bulgakov has been relieved of his post of deputy defense minister” and will be replaced by Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev, 60, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The Russian invasion, carried out on February 24, and Ukraine’s recent achievements have posed glaring flaws, with some analysts seeing logistics as the weak link in Moscow’s military.

Russia’s draft military conscription sparked protests and forced men of military age to flee from Russiawith flights abroad brimming and neighboring countries receiving heavy flows, including Georgia, where 2,300 private vehicles are waiting to enter at a border crossing, Russia’s regional authorities said.

Street protest According to the independent monitoring group OVD-Info, on Saturday authorities arrested more than 700 protesters in 32 cities across Russia.

A separate law, also signed on Saturday, facilitates naturalization of Russian citizenship for foreigners who enlist in the Russian military for at least a year, bypassing the usual requirement of a five-year stay in the country. .

The measure appears to be primarily aimed at Central Asian migrants from the former Soviet republics, who are often hired for hard, low-wage jobs.

Before the law went into effect, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan warned their citizens not to get involved in any armed conflict.

The amendments came as the Kremlin-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhia to the south, vote for monday become part of Russia.

Moscow could then view any military move over the occupied areas as an attack on its own territory.

This week, Mr Putin warned that Moscow would use “any means” to defend its territory, which former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media could include the use of “nuclear weapons”. strategy”.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden dismissed a “sham” vote on whether Russia should annex four regions of Ukraine, ending on Tuesday.

Even Beijing, Moscow’s closest ally since the war began, has called for respect for “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly called on Russia and Ukraine not to let the effects of their war “spread” and called for a diplomatic solution.

“We urge all relevant parties to keep the crisis from spreading and protect the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries,” Wang said on Saturday.

The G7 nations claim the polls will “never” be recognized and have “no legal effect or legitimacy”.

United Nations investigators on Friday accused Russia of committing “massive” war crimes in Ukraine – listing horrific bombings, executions, torture and sexual violence.

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