European Union member Latvia, which borders Russia, will not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow’s mobilization of troops, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in a tweet on Wednesday, citing security concerns.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” that Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.
The partial mobilization significantly escalates the conflict over Ukraine and comes as Russia battles a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has forced its troops to retreat and surrender some occupied territory.
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Putin said the partial military mobilization of its two million-strong military reserves was to defend Russia and its territories, claiming the West did not want peace in Ukraine.
He restated his aim was to “liberate” east Ukraine’s Donbas industrial heartland region and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the “yoke” of Ukraine.
Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas region Moscow partially occupied in 2014, to be independent states. Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine held by Russian forces to be illegally occupied.
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