Ukraine war: Lavrov walks out of UN security council; Russians flee country to avoid military draft – as it happened – The Guardian


From 4h ago

Lavrov walks out of UN security council meeting

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei 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 90 minutes late for the security council meeting and appeared to want to leave as soon as he finished speaking.

Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, speaking at the council meeting after Lavrov, 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”.

Cleverly said of Lavrov:

He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised. I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.

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&quot;He has left the chamber, I'm not surprised, I don't think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council&quot; says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, following Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walking out of the meeting.https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/8pymw5lIqw

&mdash; Sky News (@SkyNews) September 22, 2022

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“He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised, I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council” says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, following Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walking out of the meeting.https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/8pymw5lIqw

— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 22, 2022

Updated at 18.05 BST

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It’s slightly past 11pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

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  • Russian president Vladimir Putin is giving directions directly to generals in the field, CNN reports. According to two sources familiar with American and western intelligence that spoke to CNN, the direct orders from Putin to generals “hints at the dysfunctional command structure” that has affected Russia forces on the battlefield.

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  • Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban wants EU sanctions on Russia lifted by the end of the year, a pro-government daily newspaper said Thursday. Orban, who has sought close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin in recent years, has frequently railed against the sanctions which were imposed onto Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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  • Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the beginning of the invasion show signs of violent torture, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said Thursday. On Wednesday Ukraine announced the exchange of a record-high 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defence of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks that became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.

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  • Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said that he is not surprised that that Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a UN security council meeting. “I’m not surprised,” Cleverly said at the UN, saying, “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.”

  • \n

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It’s 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

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  • Thousands of men across Russia have been handed draft papers after Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation. Among those who have been called up since the president’s announcement on Wednesday are Russians detained while protesting against the mobilisation, the OVD-Info rights group said.

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  • Traffic at Russian border crossings with Finland and Georgia surged after 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 the coming days. Photos showed long tailbacks at border crossings with Finland and Georgia.

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  • In response, Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said her government was considering ways to sharply reduce Russian tourism and transit through Finland. “The government’s will is very clear, we believe Russian tourism [to Finland] must be stopped, as well as transit through Finland,” Marin told reporters.

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  • The Kremlin has dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age following Putin’s mobilisation announcement as “exaggerated”. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying: “This is not against the law.”

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  • Russian deserters fleeing mobilisation may be able to obtain protection in Germany, the German interior minister, Nancy Faeser, said. “Deserters threatened with serious repression can, as a rule, obtain international protection in Germany,” Faeser said in an interview. The Czech foreign minister, Jan Lipavský, said Russians fleeing the country will not be issued humanitarian visas by the Czech Republic.

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  • The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has issued a strongly worded rebuke to Russia for “totally unacceptable” nuclear threats. Speaking at the start of a UN security council meeting the day after Putin raised the stakes in his invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said Moscow’s plans to annex parts of Ukraine were a “violation of the UN charter and of international law”.

  • \n

  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei 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. He appeared to walk out of the UN meeting as his British counterpart, James Cleverly, addressed the council.

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  • Also speaking at the UN security council meeting, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, accused 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.

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  • Nato has condemned plans to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, describing them as Moscow’s “blatant attempts at territorial conquest”. “Sham referenda” in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson “have no legitimacy”, the alliance said in a statement following the announcement earlier this week that the regions were planning to hold “referendums” on joining the Russian Federation.

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  • The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also denied reports that an undisclosed clause in 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 the government’s real plan is to call up 1 million people.

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  • Security forces detained more than 1,300 people in Russia overnight at protests denouncing mobilisation, a rights group said. Those figures from 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.

  • \n

  • 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 began in February. In return, Russia received 55 prisoners from Ukraine, including the former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Putin accused by Ukraine of high treason.

  • \n

  • 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.

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  • 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”.

  • \n

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Nato has condemned plans to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, describing them as Moscow’s “blatant attempts at territorial conquest”.

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Earlier this week, four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions announced they were planning to hold votes on joining the Russian Federation. Ukraine and the west have indicated they will not recognise the annexations – and that Russia’s new territorial claims will not slow Ukraine reclaiming its sovereign land.

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In a statement today, Nato said:

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Sham referenda in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine have no legitimacy and will be a blatant violation of the UN charter.

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It added:

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Nato allies will not recognise their illegal and illegitimate annexation. These lands are Ukraine.

\n

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Thousands of men across Russia have been handed draft papers after Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation.

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First video showing called-up men in Moscow saying goodbyes to crying mothers. Similar scenes unfolded in hundreds of Russians cities and towns today. Some Moscow reservists I spoke to say they are also leaving for training tonight, likely will be on the frontlines in ~2-3 weeks pic.twitter.com/xhBMNT5Oiv

&mdash; Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) September 22, 2022

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Among those who have been called up since the Russian president’s announcement yesterday are Russians detained while protesting in cities across the country, the OVD-Info rights group said.

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One protester in Moscow was told they faced a 10-year jail sentence for refusing to receive an enlistment order, it said.

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In a statement, OVD-Info said:

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Information was received from 15 police departments that the detained men were handed a summons to the military registration and enlistment office.

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Another demonstrator told the Moscow Times that male protesters were given draft papers at the police station. She told the paper:

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There was a military recruiting officer who gave the detained men draft notifications. When the first person was asked to go to a separate room, we did not understand what was going on — but when he returned with a draft slip, we just started crying.

\n

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Earlier today, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to deny reports that some protesters had been given draft papers, saying only: “This is not against the law.”

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Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, walked out of a UN security council meeting after accusing Ukraine and its western allies of “impunity” in Donbas.

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Ukraine and its allies were attempting to “impose on us a completely different narrative about Russian aggression”, Lavrov argued.

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Lavrov was nearly 90 minutes late for the security council meeting and appeared to want to leave as soon as he finished speaking.

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Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, speaking at the council meeting after Lavrov, said the UK would support Ukraine all the way and for as long as it takes.

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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”.

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Cleverly said of Lavrov:

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He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised. I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.

\n

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&quot;He has left the chamber, I'm not surprised, I don't think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council&quot; says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, following Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walking out of the meeting.https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/8pymw5lIqw

&mdash; Sky News (@SkyNews) September 22, 2022

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It’s 6pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

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    \n

  • The Kremlin has dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation as “exaggerated”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying: “This is not against the law.”

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.

  • \n

  • 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.”

  • \n

  • 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”.

  • \n

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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.

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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”.

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Addressing the UN security council meeting, Guterres said talk of a nuclear conflict was “totally unacceptable”.

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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.

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On the subject of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Guterres described the situation as remaining “of grave concern”.

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He said:

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All attacks on nuclear facilities must end and the purely civilian nature of such plants must be reestablished.

\n

Any damage to nuclear infrastructure, whether deliberate or not, could have terrible consequences for people around the planet.

\n

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Guterres welcomed yesterday’s release of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, describing the prisoner swap as a “welcome development”.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“This exchange of prisoners, which took place under the mediation of Turkey, is an important step towards ending the war,” Reuters report he said.

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“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.

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One million Russian citizens could be called up to fight in the war in Ukraine as part of Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation drive, according to a report by a Russian newspaper.

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In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, the Russian president said military service would only apply to “citizens who are currently in the reserve, especially those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience”.

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Shortly after Putin’s announcement, the country’s defence ministry Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 Russians would be called up as part of the mobilisation that would apply to “those with previous military experience”.

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“These are not people who’ve never seen or heard anything about the army,” he said, adding that students can “keep going to class”.

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But Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper operating in exile, has quoted an unnamed official in Putin’s government as saying that the real plan is to call up 1 million people.

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The source told the newspaper that a classified seventh paragraph of the decree, signed by Putin on Wednesday, allows the Russian defence ministry to call up 1 million people.

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The source said:

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The figure was corrected several times, and in the end, they settled on a million.

\n

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The Kremlin has dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation as “exaggerated”.

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Flight sales data showed flights from Moscow to the capitals of Georgia, Turkey and Armenia, all destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were sold out within minutes of Putin’s announcement on Wednesday.

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In his regular briefing with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying:

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\n

This is not against the law.

\n

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Russia’s defence ministry has said 55 of its servicemen have been released in the largest prisoner exchange deal with Ukraine since the start of the war.

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In a statement, the Kremlin said:

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All servicemen have been delivered to the territory of the Russian Federation by military transport aircraft and are in medical institutions of Russia’s defence ministry.

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The fighters, who came from Russia’s armed forces and its proxies in the Russian-backed separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, were currently undergoing health checks, it added.

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The statement did not mention Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of Vladimir Putin accused of high treason. The Russian-installed separatist head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said Medvedchuk had been freed as part of the deal.

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Nearly 300 people, including 10 foreigners and Ukrainian fighters who took part in the siege of Mariupol, were involved in the prisoner swap.

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The names of five British nationals released by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine overnight have been confirmed.

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Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill were flown to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia before being flown back to Britain.

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They were reunited with their families after landing at Heathrow Airport.

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On Wednesday, the UK prime minister, Liz Truss, confirmed that five Britons held by pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine had been released after the intervention of Saudi Arabia.

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Aslin’s MP Robert Jenrick tweeted yesterday that he and “the other British prisoners of war held captive by the Russian authorities” were on their way back to the UK.

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In a video filmed on a plane with Pinner beside him, Aslin said:

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We just want to let everybody know we are out of the danger zone.

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“By the skin of our teeth,” Pinner added, and both men thanked those who had supported them during their detention.

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Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here, taking over the live blog from Martin Belam to bring you all the latest developments from the Russia-Ukraine war. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

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  • Security forces detained more than 1,300 people in Russia overnight at protests denouncing mobilisation, a rights group said, hours after Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first military draft since the second world war.

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  • The independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group said that according to information it had collated from 38 Russian cities, more than 1,311 people had been held by late evening. It said those figures included at least 502 in Moscow and 524 in St Petersburg, Russia’s second most populous city. Unsanctioned rallies are illegal under Russia’s anti-protest laws.

  • \n

  • Russian interior ministry official Irina Volk, in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies, said officers had cut short attempts to stage what it called small protests. “In a number of regions, there were attempts to stage unauthorised actions which brought together an extremely small number of participants,” Volk was quoted as saying. “These were all stopped.”

  • \n

  • The Moscow Times is carrying a report that a Russian military recruitment office and an administration building were attacked overnight in two separate locations during the anti-mobilisation protests.

  • \n

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  • 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.”

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  • Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia has “intensified” during the night, the Finnish border guard said early on Thursday, while adding that the situation was under control. One-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast on Wednesday after Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists.

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  • Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and prime minister, and currently deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has threatened attacks on Europe and US, saying “Referendums will be held, and the Donbas republics and other territories will be admitted to Russia. Any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used [to protect them]. Therefore, various retired idiots with generals’ stripes do not need to scare us with talk about a Nato strike on Crimea. Hypersonic is guaranteed to be able to reach targets in Europe and the United States much faster.”

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  • Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has described Joe Biden’s speech on Wednesday at the UN as “indecent”, and accused the US president of mis-quoting his Russian counterpart over nuclear threats.

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  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, shrugged off Russian moves to escalate the war, saying his country’s forces would continue their counteroffensive, not giving Russia breathing space to mobilise and dig in on Ukrainian soil. “We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms, but we need time,” Zelenskiy said in a recorded broadcast to the UN general assembly on Wednesday.

  • \n

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  • Zelenskiy on Thursday thanked Turkey and Saudi Arabia for their roles in recent prisoner exchanges. This included a Briton who was threatened with execution after being captured by Russian forces during the siege of Mariupol, who has been released alongside four other Britons and five international prisoners after the intervention of Saudi Arabia. Aiden Aslin was released alongside the two fighters he was sentenced to death with at a controversial trial in Russian-held eastern Ukraine in June – Shaun Pinner, and a Moroccan named Brahim Saadoun.

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  • The general staff of the Ukraine army has issued updated figures of the losses it claims to have inflicted on Russia and pro-Russia forces within occupied areas of Ukraine, raising it to ~55,510. On Wednesday, Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, spoke of losses amounting to just under 6,000 personnel during what he termed Russia’s “special military operation”.

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  • North Korea has denied it is providing arms to Russia, state media said, weeks after the US said Moscow was turning to Pyongyang to replenish its stocks depleted by invading Ukraine.

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  • Uzbekistan’s state prosecutors warned citizens against joining foreign armies after Russia offered fast-track citizenship to those who sign up and Ukraine said it had captured Uzbeks fighting alongside Russians.

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  • The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Wednesday he had met Ukraine’s and Russia’s foreign ministers in a bid to establish a safety and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

  • \n

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That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. I will be back later. Léonie Chao-Fong will be with you for the next few hours.

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Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and prime minister, and currently deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has issued another Telegram message containing his typically hawkish rhetoric. He says:

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Referendums will be held, and the Donbas republics and other territories will be admitted to Russia. The protection of all the territories that have joined will be significantly strengthened by the Russian armed forces.

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Russia announced that not only mobilisation capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.

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Therefore, various retired idiots with generals’ stripes do not need to scare us with talk about a Nato strike on Crimea. Hypersonic is guaranteed to be able to reach targets in Europe and the United States much faster.

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But the western establishment, in general, all citizens of the Nato countries need to understand that Russia has chosen its own path. There is no way back.

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The UK’s ministry of defence has issued its daily intelligence briefing about how it sees the situation in Ukraine. It has concentrated today on the consequences of Russia’s partial mobilisation announced yesterday by Vladimir Putin, which it judges unlikely to be effective. It writes:

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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.

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Even this limited mobilisation is likely to be highly unpopular with parts of the Russian population. Putin is accepting considerable political risk in the hope of generating much needed combat power.

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The move is effectively an admission that Russia has exhausted its supply of willing volunteers to fight in Ukraine.

\n

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Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 22 September 2022

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/XL4XfL3qRG

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/8VtmvHnfPb

&mdash; Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) September 22, 2022

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Russia is set to face direct pressure at the United Nations on Thursday over its invasion of Ukraine, whose leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed to the world to punish Moscow. Agence France-Presse reports.

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As global leaders convened for the annual general assembly, the security council will hold a special session among foreign ministers called by France on impunity for rights abuses in Ukraine.

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The morning session is expected to bring Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov face to face with top western diplomats including secretary of state Antony Blinken, who has refused a one-on-one meeting since the 24 February invasion.

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After two years of pandemic restrictions, only one leader was still allowed to address the assembly virtually – Zelenskiy, who in a pre-recorded video called 15 times for “punishment” of Russia and received a rare standing ovation.

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The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said Wednesday he met with Ukraine’s and Russia’s foreign ministers in a bid to establish a safety and security zone around a nuclear plant in south-eastern Ukraine that is Europe’s largest, AP reports.

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The Zaporizhzhia power plant has faced almost daily shelling and bombardment, raising fears of a nuclear accident.

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Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that as a result of the separate meetings with Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba and Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, work has already begun on establishing and shaping the zone.

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He said he hopes to visit Kyiv soon, and “perhaps later on” go to Russia.

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“Given the urgency of the situation and the gravity of what’s going on in the field we have to move fast,” Grossi said. Both nations, he said, share “a conviction that the establishment of the zone is indispensable.”

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“The mere fact that the two foreign ministers are sitting down with me and are listening to our ideas, I think it’s a good indicator that there is a very strong solid base for this thing to happen,” he said.

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The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has shrugged off Russian moves to escalate the war, saying his country’s forces would continue their counteroffensive, not giving Russia breathing space to mobilise and dig in on Ukrainian soil.

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“We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms, but we need time,” Zelenskiy said in a recorded broadcast to the UN general assembly on Wednesday, which Russia had tried to stop but was overwhelmingly voted down by member states.

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“Russia wants to spend the winter on the occupied territory of Ukraine … It wants to prepare fortifications on occupied land and carry out military mobilisation at home. We cannot agree to a delayed war because it will be even hotter than the war now.”

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Zelenskiy laid out what he said were five non-negotiable conditions for peace. These included punishment for Russian aggression, restoration of Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity, and security guarantees.

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A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” Zelenskiy told the UN body.

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“A special tribunal should be created to punish Russia for the crime of aggression against our state… Russia should pay for this war with its assets,” the Ukrainian president said, urging the UN to “remove the right of veto” from Russia as a Security Council member.

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Zelenskiy reminded world leaders of the mass graves being exhumed in the recently liberated town of Izium as the general assembly gathered, saying that among the bodies was a man strangled with a rope, and another who had been castrated before the murder. The Ukrainian president said that was not the first of such atrocities.

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He told the global assembly: “Ask, please, the representatives of Russia why the Russian military are so obsessed with castration. What was done to them so that they want to do this to others?”

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UN address","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 22 Sep 2022 21.02 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 22 Sep 2022 05.30 BST"},{"id":"632bd4cb8f08146227061cf0","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

EU foreign ministers have agreed to prepare new sanctions on Russia and increase weapons’ deliveries to Kyiv, Reuters reports.

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\n

The bloc’s 27 foreign ministers are in New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilisation – which included moves to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory and a threat to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia – showed panic and desperation.

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“It’s clear that Putin is trying to destroy Ukraine,” Borrell told reporters after ministers met to decide how to respond.

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After being briefed by Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, the ministers agreed to task their teams to prepare an eighth sanctions package that would target “more relevant sectors of the Russian economy and continue targeting people responsible for the war of aggression in Ukraine,” Borrell said.

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EU ministers will hold their next formal meeting in mid-October when a sanctions package could be formalised.

\n

The ministers also agreed to ramp up weapons supplies to Ukraine. Borrell declined to give further details on the type of sanctions or military support, but said he believed there would be “unanimous” support within the bloc for new measures.

\n

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Good morning and welcome back to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the war dominated the first in-person UN general assembly meeting in two years, EU foreign ministers agreed on new sanctions on Russia, a major prisoner swap was announced and more than 1,300 Russians were arrested for demonstrating against Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation.

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Here are the latest developments, as of 7.30am Kyiv time:

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    \n

  • European Union foreign ministers agreed on Wednesday to prepare new sanctions on Russia and increase weapons’ deliveries to Kyiv after President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s first wartime mobilisation since the second world war. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Putin’s announcement – which included moves to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory and a threat to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia – showed panic and desperation.

  • \n

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called on the international community to adopt a five-point formula to achieve peace and security in Ukraine, in a wide-ranging and impassioned televised speech to the UN general assembly on Wednesday. The points include punishment for crimes of aggression, protection of life, restoration of security and territorial integrity, security guarantees and the determination of Ukraine to continue defending itself.

  • \n

  • Joe Biden and allied leaders have reacted angrily to Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons and pledged to maintain support for Ukraine. In his speech to the UN on Wednesday, Biden sought to unite the international community in the face of what he called “reckless” threats and “an extremely significant violation” of the UN charter.

  • \n

  • More than 1,300 protesters have been arrested in anti-mobilisation rallies that are taking place throughout Russia. According to OVD-Info, more than 1,311 people have been detained in 38 cities across Russia, with most of the detainees in Moscow and St Petersburg.

  • \n

  • North Korea has said it has never supplied weapons or ammunition to Russia and does not plan to do so in the future, according to a statement released by the state media service, KCNA.

  • \n

  • Russia has released 215 Ukrainians it took prisoner after a protracted battle for the port city of Mariupol earlier this year, including top military leaders, a senior official in Kyiv said. The freed Ukrainians included the commander and deputy commander of the Azov battalion that did much of the fighting, said Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office.

  • \n

  • Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Russian-occupied Melitipol in Ukraine, has urged local men to evacuate the city amid mobilisation orders from Russia, the Kyiv Independent reports.

  • \n

  • Finland said it was working on a federal strategy to “limit or completely prevent” tourism from Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. “This national solution may include new legislation, which would be adopted very quickly,” the foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, told a press conference on Wednesday.

  • \n

  • Five British nationals held by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine have been safely returned, the UK prime minister, Liz Truss, has said. Among those released was Aiden Aslin, a British-Ukrainian former care worker from Nottinghamshire.

  • \n

  • The Saudi foreign ministry said Russia had released 10 foreign prisoners of war captured in Ukraine after mediation by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. US citizens Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh were among those released.

  • \n

  • Joe Biden has denounced Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons as “reckless” and “irresponsible” and called Russia’s planned annexation of more regions of Ukraine as “an extremely significant violation” of the UN charter. The US president was speaking to the UN general assembly, where he sought to galvanise the outrage of UN member states at the threat that Putin’s actions and “imperial ambitions” posed to the UN’s founding values.

  • \n

  • Earlier on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation in Russia in a significant escalation that places the country’s people and economy on a wartime footing and sent shock waves across Russia. The Russian president said in a televised address that the “partial mobilisation” was a direct response to the dangers posed by the west. According to the decree, the contracts of soldiers fighting in Ukraine will also be extended until the end of the partial mobilisation period.

  • \n

  • Liz Truss and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said Putin’s speech on Wednesday was “a statement of weakness”. They said in a joint statement following a meeting between the pair in New York that Putin’s calls for partial mobilisation were “a sign that Russia’s invasion is failing”.

  • \n

  • Russia fired a series of long-range missiles at Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv early on Wednesday, hours after the Kremlin announced plans to annex Ukrainian territory and to carry out the partial mobilisation. Explosions were heard across Kharkiv at around 2am. At least one missile struck a high-rise apartment in the western Zalutino district. Ten residents were injured.

  • \n

  • The security service of Ukraine has released a recording of an intercepted call by a Russian soldier in which he appears to complain about the setbacks faced by Russian troops in recent months. “Locals hate us here. Ours rape local women,” the soldier appeared to say into the phone, adding there was little to no chance of him returning home anytime soon.

  • \n

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Key events

Summary

It’s slightly past 11pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin is giving directions directly to generals in the field, CNN reports. According to two sources familiar with American and western intelligence that spoke to CNN, the direct orders from Putin to generals “hints at the dysfunctional command structure” that has affected Russia forces on the battlefield.

  • Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban wants EU sanctions on Russia lifted by the end of the year, a pro-government daily newspaper said Thursday. Orban, who has sought close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin in recent years, has frequently railed against the sanctions which were imposed onto Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

  • Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the beginning of the invasion show signs of violent torture, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said Thursday. On Wednesday Ukraine announced the exchange of a record-high 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defence of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks that became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.

  • Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said that he is not surprised that that Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a UN security council meeting. “I’m not surprised,” Cleverly said at the UN, saying, “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin is giving directions directly to generals in the field, CNN reports.

According to two sources familiar with American and western intelligence that spoke to CNN, the direct orders from Putin to generals “hints at the dysfunctional command structure” that has affected Russia forces on the battlefield.

Other sources who are familiar with US intelligence told CNN that there are significant disagreements on strategy with military leaders who struggle to agree on where to focus their efforts in Ukraine.

Additionally, a senior NATO official told the outlet that senior officials in Moscow are struggling to assign blame for Russia’s setbacks in the war.

“Kremlin officials and state media pundits have been feverishly discussing the reasons for the failure in Kharkiv and in typical fashion, the Kremlin seems to be attempting to deflect the blame away from Putin and onto the Russian military,” the official said.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban wants EU sanctions on Russia lifted by the end of the year, a pro-government daily newspaper said Thursday.

Orban, who has sought close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin in recent years, has frequently railed against the sanctions which were imposed onto Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

According to Orban, the sanctions are more damaging to Europe than to Russia.

Magyar Nemzet reported that Orban urged members of his Fidesz party at a closed-door gathering late Wednesday to get the sanctions lifted.

“According to our information… Orban called on the members of the Fidesz faction to do their utmost to ensure that Europe lifts these sanctions by the end of the year at the latest,” the newspaper said.

The government said it confirmed the content of the article. It comes as Brussels looks to impose further sanctions on Russia.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said further sanctions would only “deepen the difficulties”.

“Europe is suffering more from the restrictions imposed in response to the war in Ukraine than Russia, and therefore the eighth package of sanctions should be forgotten,” he said at the UN General Assembly in New York earlier this week.

Hungary has been hit by record-high inflation. The country is highly dependent on Russian oil and gas, and there are fears for its energy supplies.

Orban’s ruling Fidesz party meanwhile announced it would soon launch a national public consultation on the issue of sanctions – a method previously used to denounce EU migration policy for instance.

It would aim to give Hungarians the chance to voice their opinion, Mate Kocsis, head of the party’s parliamentary group, told reporters.

“It is not normal that sanctions are only decided by the Brussels elite,” Kocsis said.

EU foreign ministers held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue after Moscow mobilised reservists for its war in Ukraine.

A final decision needs to be made at a formal session.

Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the beginning of the invasion show signs of violent torture, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said Thursday.

Agence France-Presse reports:

On Wednesday Ukraine announced the exchange of a record-high 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defence of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks that became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.

“Many of them have been brutally tortured,” Kyrylo Budanov said during a press conference, without providing further details on signs of torture.

Some of the detainees “are in a more or less normal physical condition, except for chronic malnutrition due to bad conditions of detention”, Budanov said.

The prisoners were detained in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops, as well as in Russia itself, according to the high-ranking official.

Ukrainian interior minister Denys Monastyrsky during the same press conference said “absolutely all” of the Ukrainian prisoners swapped “need psychological rehabilitation.”

Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said that he is not surprised that that Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a UN security council meeting.

“I’m not surprised,” Cleverly said at the UN, saying, “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.”

‘I’m not surprised’: Cleverly reacts to Lavrov walkout at UN security council – video

Updated at 19.24 BST

Summary of the day so far

It’s 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • Thousands of men across Russia have been handed draft papers after Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation. Among those who have been called up since the president’s announcement on Wednesday are Russians detained while protesting against the mobilisation, the OVD-Info rights group said.

  • Traffic at Russian border crossings with Finland and Georgia surged after 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 the coming days. Photos showed long tailbacks at border crossings with Finland and Georgia.

  • In response, Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said her government was considering ways to sharply reduce Russian tourism and transit through Finland. “The government’s will is very clear, we believe Russian tourism [to Finland] must be stopped, as well as transit through Finland,” Marin told reporters.

  • The Kremlin has dismissed reports of an exodus of Russian men of fighting age following Putin’s mobilisation announcement as “exaggerated”. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying: “This is not against the law.”

  • Russian deserters fleeing mobilisation may be able to obtain protection in Germany, the German interior minister, Nancy Faeser, said. “Deserters threatened with serious repression can, as a rule, obtain international protection in Germany,” Faeser said in an interview. The Czech foreign minister, Jan Lipavský, said Russians fleeing the country will not be issued humanitarian visas by the Czech Republic.

  • The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has issued a strongly worded rebuke to Russia for “totally unacceptable” nuclear threats. Speaking at the start of a UN security council meeting the day after Putin raised the stakes in his invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said Moscow’s plans to annex parts of Ukraine were a “violation of the UN charter and of international law”.

  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei 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. He appeared to walk out of the UN meeting as his British counterpart, James Cleverly, addressed the council.

  • Also speaking at the UN security council meeting, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, accused 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.

  • Nato has condemned plans to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, describing them as Moscow’s “blatant attempts at territorial conquest”. “Sham referenda” in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson “have no legitimacy”, the alliance said in a statement following the announcement earlier this week that the regions were planning to hold “referendums” on joining the Russian Federation.

  • The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also denied reports that an undisclosed clause in 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 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 from 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 began in February. In return, Russia received 55 prisoners from Ukraine, including the former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Putin accused by Ukraine of high treason.

  • 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.

  • 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”.

Updated at 20.09 BST

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth

Summons delivered to eligible men at midnight. Schoolteachers pressed into handing out draft notices. Men given an hour to pack their things and appear at draft centres. Women sobbing as they send their husbands and sons off to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The first full day of Russia’s first mobilisation since the second world war produced emotional showdowns at draft centres and even signs of protest. And it appears Russia could be considering far more than the 300,000 new conscripts claimed by the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.

One woman in a village in the Zakamensky region of Buryatia, eastern Siberia, said she first felt something was amiss when the dogs began barking at about midnight.

In a community of 450 people, the village head was walking from house to house, seeking to hand out more than 20 draft notices. As men gathered before departing the next morning, she said, some drank vodka, while others hugged and told each other to stay safe. Women cried and made the sign of the cross over the small minibus that carried them away.

“It’s not a partial mobilisation, it’s a 100% mobilisation,” said Alexandra Garmazhapova, the president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, an activist group that has reported on the draft in the region. In the past day, she said, she and her colleagues had received and identified more than 3,000 reports of povestka, or draft papers, being delivered in Buryatia within just 24 hours of Vladimir Putin announcing the draft.

Read the full story here:

Updated at 20.01 BST

Nato condemns Russia’s ‘sham referenda’ in Ukraine

Nato has condemned plans to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, describing them as Moscow’s “blatant attempts at territorial conquest”.

Earlier this week, four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions announced they were planning to hold votes on joining the Russian Federation. Ukraine and the west have indicated they will not recognise the annexations – and that Russia’s new territorial claims will not slow Ukraine reclaiming its sovereign land.

In a statement today, Nato said:

Sham referenda in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine have no legitimacy and will be a blatant violation of the UN charter.

It added:

Nato allies will not recognise their illegal and illegitimate annexation. These lands are Ukraine.

Updated at 20.11 BST

Also speaking at the UN’s security council today, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, called for “neutrality” and urged Russia and Ukraine to commit to “dialogue without pre-conditions”.

Wang Yi attending the UN security council meeting.
Wang Yi attending the UN security council meeting. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/Reuters

China supported investigations into violations of international humanitarian law, but they should be “objective and fair, based on facts rather than an assumption of guilt” and “must not be politicised”, Wang said.

Wang spoke with his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, on the sidelines of the UN meeting, where he argued that an expanded and protracted war was not in the interests of any parties, according to China’s foreign ministry.

China hopes that the “flame of war” will go out as soon as possible, the Chinese ministry cited Wang as saying.

Updated at 20.12 BST

Boris Johnson has said the UK must be prepared to give “more military assistance” and “more economic support” to Ukraine.

Speaking to the Commons today, the former prime minister said it was “more vital than ever” that Britain has “the strategic patience to hold our nerve” and ensure that Ukrainians succeed in recapturing their territory.

Johnson added:

If Putin is going to double down on his aggression, then we must double down in our defence of the Ukrainians, and we must be prepared to give more military assistance and more economic support.

Detained anti-war protesters among thousands handed draft papers, says rights group

Thousands of men across Russia have been handed draft papers after Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation.

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First video showing called-up men in Moscow saying goodbyes to crying mothers. Similar scenes unfolded in hundreds of Russians cities and towns today. Some Moscow reservists I spoke to say they are also leaving for training tonight, likely will be on the frontlines in ~2-3 weeks pic.twitter.com/xhBMNT5Oiv

&mdash; Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) September 22, 2022

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First video showing called-up men in Moscow saying goodbyes to crying mothers. Similar scenes unfolded in hundreds of Russians cities and towns today. Some Moscow reservists I spoke to say they are also leaving for training tonight, likely will be on the frontlines in ~2-3 weeks pic.twitter.com/xhBMNT5Oiv

— Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) September 22, 2022

Among those who have been called up since the Russian president’s announcement yesterday are Russians detained while protesting in cities across the country, the OVD-Info rights group said.

One protester in Moscow was told they faced a 10-year jail sentence for refusing to receive an enlistment order, it said.

In a statement, OVD-Info said:

Information was received from 15 police departments that the detained men were handed a summons to the military registration and enlistment office.

Another demonstrator told the Moscow Times that male protesters were given draft papers at the police station. She told the paper:

There was a military recruiting officer who gave the detained men draft notifications. When the first person was asked to go to a separate room, we did not understand what was going on — but when he returned with a draft slip, we just started crying.

Earlier today, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to deny reports that some protesters had been given draft papers, saying only: “This is not against the law.”

Updated at 20.13 BST

The Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk has written for us today about how Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation will make the war real for thousands of Russian families, and proves it is failing to hold the frontline.

Ukrainians feel hope, not fear, she writes.

Instead of thinking about Putin’s speech, many Ukrainians celebrated the exchange of 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war that took place on the same day. Among them were Azov battalion fighters, members of the the national guard, the head of the Mariupol patrol police, and a nine-months-pregnant paramedic who had spent six months in prison.

Exhausted, thin, and wearing the same clothes they had on when captured in May 2022, many had a chance to call their relatives for the first time in months. “The best soil in the world,” one of the fighters said, kneeling down and kissing the land.

Read the full story here:

Updated at 18.02 BST

Russians fleeing the partial mobilisation ordered by Vladimir Putin will not be issued with humanitarian visas by the Czech Republic, the Czech foreign minister, Jan Lipavský, said.

In a statement obtained by Agence-France-Presse, Lipavský said:

I understand that Russians are fleeing from the increasingly desperate decisions taken by Putin. But those who are running away from their country because they do not want to fulfil a duty imposed by their own state do not meet the criteria for receiving humanitarian visas.

Earlier today, Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, suggested that Russian deserters may be able to obtain protection in Germany.

Updated at 18.03 BST

Lavrov walks out of UN security council meeting

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei 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 90 minutes late for the security council meeting and appeared to want to leave as soon as he finished speaking.

Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, speaking at the council meeting after Lavrov, 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”.

Cleverly said of Lavrov:

He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised. I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.

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&quot;He has left the chamber, I'm not surprised, I don't think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council&quot; says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, following Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walking out of the meeting.https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/8pymw5lIqw

&mdash; Sky News (@SkyNews) September 22, 2022

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“He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised, I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council” says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, following Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walking out of the meeting.https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/8pymw5lIqw

— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 22, 2022

Updated at 18.05 BST

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.

Updated at 17.03 BST

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.

Updated at 16.49 BST

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

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.

Map

“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.

Read the full story here:

Updated at 16.36 BST

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.

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Incoming traffic at the eastern border increased during the night. Traffic has increased compared to previous weeks, but the amount is still small compared to the time before the pandemic. Our resources are sufficient and the situation is under the control. #Finnishborder pic.twitter.com/B7GfUQyZti

&mdash; Rajavartiolaitos (@rajavartijat) September 22, 2022

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Incoming traffic at the eastern border increased during the night. Traffic has increased compared to previous weeks, but the amount is still small compared to the time before the pandemic. Our resources are sufficient and the situation is under the control. #Finnishborder pic.twitter.com/B7GfUQyZti

— Rajavartiolaitos (@rajavartijat) September 22, 2022

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The situation at Finland's borders has not changed alarmingly in recent days. Incorrect and misleading information is circulating in social media. We will regularly post about the situation on this twitter account in the coming days. #Finnishborder pic.twitter.com/Jng6BhDs35

&mdash; Rajavartiolaitos (@rajavartijat) September 22, 2022

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The situation at Finland’s borders has not changed alarmingly in recent days. Incorrect and misleading information is circulating in social media. We will regularly post about the situation on this twitter account in the coming days. #Finnishborder pic.twitter.com/Jng6BhDs35

— Rajavartiolaitos (@rajavartijat) September 22, 2022

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.

Cars queue to enter the Brusnichnoye checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish border in the Leningrad region.
Cars queue to enter the Brusnichnoye checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish border in the Leningrad region. Photograph: Obtained By Reuters/Reuters

Updated at 16.24 BST

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.

She added:

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”.

Updated at 16.16 BST

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