Ukraine Latest: Kremlin Says No Decision Made on Closing Borders




  • In World
  • 2022-09-26 10:51:07Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Russians to flee or surrender to avoid the Kremlin's mobilization effort, saying it would help sooner end what he called the "criminal war."

Seven months into the conflict, President Vladimir Putin's order to add another 300,000 troops has triggered sporadic protests throughout the country, amid fears that the government will soon close the border for draft-aged men.

The Kremlin may rush to complete its planned annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine as early as this week after votes to join Russia, condemned by the United Nations as illegal, are completed.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Russian Exodus Grows Amid Fears Kremlin May Restrict Borders

  • Biden Aide Says US Has Warned Kremlin Against Using Nuclear Arms

  • Russians Confront New Normal as Annexation Voting Continues

  • Zelenskiy Says China's Position on Russian Invasion 'Ambiguous'

On the Ground

With partial mobilization underway, Russia's military attacked the southern Odesa region with drones overnight, damaging military infrastructure, Ukraine's southern operational command said on Facebook. Russian missiles also hit Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said. Ukraine's General Staff said in its morning update that more than 40 settlements, from Kupyansk and Kramatorsk in the east to Mykolaiv and Odesa in the south, were shelled over the past day.

(All Times CET)

Kremlin Says 'No Decisions' Made on Closing Borders (12:43 p.m.)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "no decisions have been made" about possibly closing the borders to stem the outflow of Russians subject to mobilization.

"I'm not aware of anything," he said when asked about media reports that the authorities plan to restrict travel outside the country by those who might be called up. He also said no decisions had been made on imposing martial law in parts of the country.

Thousands of Russians have flooded to the borders in the days since the Sep. 21 mobilization order, seeking to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Hungary Lays Down Russian Sanctions Red Line (12:31 p.m.)

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country won't support any European Union sanctions that could interrupt nuclear energy supplies. Russia's state-controlled nuclear giant Rosatom has contracted to build a new reactor in Hungary that's expected to begin generating by 2030.

"We never supported and will never support any sanctions that will endanger our nuclear investment, be it in a direct or indirect way," he said Monday at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Hungary would oppose sanctions against Russia that would impact the engineering, construction or information technologies that the reactor near the city of Paks will need, he said.

The EU is "already moving toward a recession" after sanctions disrupted east-west energy supply chains, he said. The new reactor, whose construction is expected to start next year, is needed to "protect our sovereignty," according to Szijjarto.

Russia's Drone Attacks May Harm Grain Deal, Ukrainian Official Says (11:58 a.m.)

At least five "suicide" drones sent by Russian forces hit Odesa over the past days, including buildings in the area near the city sea port, Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the head of the Odesa regional military administration, said during a video briefing.

Russia is trying to spare its missiles and use self-exploding Iran-made drones instead, according to Bratchuk. Ukrainian authorities are worried this may affect functioning of the "grain corridor" and hope that all sides, including Turkey, will make sure their security guarantees will remain in effect, Bratchuk said.

Zelenskiy and his key security and defense officials discussed ways to counter Russia's use of new types of weapons in the war during a meeting on Monday, his press service said.

Putin Ally Says He Founded Wagner Mercenary Group (10:32 a.m.)

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who for years denied any connection to the Wagner private military contractor, confirmed that he founded the mercenary group in a statement his company posted on social media.

Prigozhin, an ally of Putin, said he formed the group in May 2014 to send fighters to Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, adding that "I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me."

He acknowledged the Russian group has been active in Syria and other Arab states, as well as in Africa and Latin America, calling it "one of the pillars of our homeland." The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any connection to Wagner.

Moldova Mulls Curbing Citizenship for Draftees in Russian Army (9:54 a.m.)

The government of Moldova is considering withdrawing the citizenship of people who enlist in the Russian army, President Maia Sandu said, adding that she sees increased risks of mobilization in the country's east where the Russian-controlled breakaway region of Transnistria is located.

Because many Moldovan citizens also have Russian citizenship and live and work there, Sandu said she asked Moscow to exclude Moldovans from the mobilization. The government is also boosting efforts to help those who want to return to Moldova as the number of such requests is rising, she said.

Growth in Russian Entries to Finland Eases (9:49 a.m.)

A total of 8,314 Russian citizens crossed the land border into Finland on Sunday, with most coming via crossings near St. Petersburg, according to figures published by the border guard authority.

While the traffic is still "busy," the numbers are low compared to pre-pandemic times and growth began to level off over the weekend, officials said.

Gunman Shoots Military Draft Officer in Russian Region (8:54 a.m.)

A gunman shot a military draft officer at a recruitment center in Ust-Ilimsk in Russia's Irkutsk region in Siberia, state-run Tass news service reported.

The military commissar, Alexander Eliseev, is in extremely serious condition in intensive care, Tass reported, citing the regional governor. The gunman was detained at the scene.

Zelenskiy Urges Russians to Avoid Mobilization (6:12 a.m.)

Zelenskiy used his nightly video address on Sunday to reiterate a call for Russians to flee in order to avoid mobilization.

"The more citizens of the Russian Federation at least try to protect their own lives, the sooner this criminal war" will end, he said.

Ukraine Gets US Air-Defense Systems (10:30 p.m.)

Zelenskiy said Ukraine has received advanced air-defense systems from the US, though it's "not even nearly enough" to protect the country's civilian infrastructure.

The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, developed by Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, is among the military aid the US has said it's providing to Ukraine following Russia's invasion. Speaking in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" broadcast Sunday, Zelenskiy didn't say how many systems were delivered, or when. A US Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Anti-Mobilization Protests Reported Across Russia (8:15 p.m.)

Scattered protests against Russia's mobilization have broken out across the country, particularly in southern and eastern areas far from Moscow that have been hit hardest by the draft.

In Dagestan, crowds of women chanted "No to the war" and "Shame" at police in a video posted by the Meduza news website. Police fired in the air to disperse another rally against the call-up in a video Kommersant newspaper posted on its Telegram channel. As of Sunday evening, some 2,345 people have been detained at demonstrations since Putin triggered the mobilization on Sept. 21, according to the OVD-Info monitoring group.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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