Ukraine vows to “destroy” all Russian fighters, including involuntary units

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The Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s armed forces vowed on Wednesday to destroy with weapons all Russians crossing its borders, whether they joined the war voluntarily or by force.

A Twitter wire posted by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but attributed to Valery Zaluzhny, emphasized Ukraine’s commitment to continue to defend its territory against Russian aggression.

“Hundreds of thousands of men and women are protecting their homeland, their homes, their children and the future of Ukraine,” a tweet read.

Zaluzhny noted a partial mobilization in Russia announced on Wednesday, but said no statement from Russia’s military or political leaders would “affect our willingness to fight for our freedom.”

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“We will destroy anyone who comes to our country with weapons – voluntarily or through mobilization,” the thread added.

The partial mobilization announced on Wednesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin applies only to Russian citizens on the reserves and those who have served in the military with “certain military specialties and relevant experience”. Although the order is limited, it will still call up up to 300,000 soldiers to fight for Russia in the war.

Police detained protesters in St. Petersburg on Wednesday after calls to protest the partial military mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Ukrainian defense official promised to destroy all Russians entering the borders with weapons, whether they join the war voluntarily or by force.
Olga Maltseva/TNZT via Getty Images

Putin said the mobilization was necessary to “protect Russia’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity” as Russia’s February 24 attack on Ukraine approaches its seven-month anniversary.

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It remains unclear whether the mobilization will be enough to turn the tide of a war that has inflicted several high-profile losses on Russia in recent weeks. Ukrainian counter-offensives in the South Kherson and East Kharkov regions have reportedly chopped off Putin’s soldiers, equipment and Russian-occupied territory.

Even before these counter-offensives, experts believed Putin was already struggling with staff shortages.

In an effort to bolster Putin’s forces, Russian authorities reportedly visited a homeless shelter in St. Petersburg last month to recruit those staying at the facility. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said this month that Russians have begun recruiting sick and wounded soldiers from hospitals in the eastern Donetsk region, which is partially occupied by Russia.

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Many Russians seem to be vehemently opposed to Putin’s mobilization order. Protests erupted in parts of Russia after the announcement, as departing flights rose in price and sold out. Google searches for “how to break an arm at home” in Russia also saw a resurgence after the unveiling of the mobilization plan.

News week has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

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