October 6, 2022 10:36 am

Undiplomatic words at UN and Russians flee the draft – Ukraine round-up

“The very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the gathering in New York. “We can’t let President Putin get away with it.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned that talk of nuclear conflict was “totally unacceptable”.

And he was deeply concerned about Russia’s plans for so-called referendums on joining Russia in occupied parts of Ukraine, saying the annexation of a country’s territory through force – or the threat of it – was a violation of the UN charter.

But Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, used his speech to attack Ukraine in turn – accusing the West of “connivance” with human rights groups in “covering the crimes of the Kyiv regime”.

US national security spokesman John Kirby told the BBC that Mr Putin’s threat to use all means to defend Russian territory was being taken “seriously”.

Meanwhile President Putin’s decision to call-up an estimated 300,000 Russian reservists to fight in Ukraine has led to fears the war will escalate further – and has proven controversial in Russia too:

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Queues form to flee Russia amid military call-up

A queue or cars at a border checkpointIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS / RFE/RL’S GEORGIAN SERVICE
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Queues of cars have sprung up at on Georgia’s border – such as this at the Verkhny Lars checkpoint

On Thursday, it emerged that large queues of vehicles had formed overnight at the border with Georgia – a visa-free travel path for those looking to flee Russia.

Some appeared to be men of fighting age leaving as quickly as they could, amid fears of a military call-up they might not otherwise escape. Meanwhile, air fares to visa-free travel destinations have skyrocketed and social media groups have sprung up discussing how to leave the country.

Some people have taken to the streets of major cities to protest against Mr Putin’s mobilisation – resulting in hundreds of reported arrests.

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‘I will break my arm, my leg… anything to avoid the draft’

BBC Russian has been speaking directly to some of those afraid they will be swept up in the draft.

“I will break my arm, my leg, I will go to prison, anything to avoid this whole thing,” one man from Kaliningrad told the BBC.

Evading the draft is a criminal offence. And there are fears that the call-up will hit many more men than the numbers officially announced.

Sergei, a 26-year-old PhD student at a Russian university, has no military experience and says he shouldn’t be part of the mobilisation. But when he answered the door for his grocery delivery the night before the announcement, he found instead two men who handed him military papers to sign.

In Moscow, another man was looking for unconventional ways out. “Mental health or treatment for drug addiction look like good, cheap or perhaps even free options,” he told the BBC.

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North Korea never sold arms to Russia, it says

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (L) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in Vladivostok, Russia, on April, 25, 2019.IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
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Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un last met in 2019

Earlier in September, the US claimed Russia had been forced into buying weapons from North Korea to fuel its war in Ukraine, in violation of international sanctions.

But North Korea has now hit back at those claims as utterly untrue.

“We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them,” the state news agency said, echoing Moscow’s earlier denials. The reclusive state said the claims were nothing more than rumours spread to further US “political and military aims”.

The accusations and denials have been slightly muddy since the outset, with the US initially claiming millions of rounds” of ammunition and rockets could be included in the purchases

But officials later rowed back those statements, suggesting the deal had not gone through yet and it wasn’t clear if the materiel would actually be used in Ukraine or not.

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British prisoners among hundreds released

Good news emerged for relatives of some of those captured in the war this week with a high-profile prisoner exchange – including five British man held prisoner by Russian-backed forces.

Fears had mounted that at least two of those men could have been facing a death sentence, as the others awaited trial.

But as part of a huge prisoner exchange, Aiden Aslin, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill and Shaun Pinner are returned to the UK on Thursday.

Their release was brokered by Saudi Arabia, at the same time as 215 Ukrainian soldiers were exchanged for 55 Russians.

Not everyone is happy with the significant exchange though- as Russia appears to have handed over commanders of the Azov regiment which garnered worldwide attention for its defence of Mariupol – but were portrayed as neo-Nazis in Russia.

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