Chaos has erupted at a number of conscription offices in Russian after Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation of around 300,000 reservists. According to reports, a military recruiter has been shot in the town of Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk. This incident was seen in a video verified by Sky News. Other reports have described a man throwing Molotov cocktails at a military registration and enlistment office in Uryupinsk.
With Putin looking to recruit more soldiers, many in Russia have sought to flee the country. Direct flights to countries like Turkey and Azerbaijan sold out last week, and the borders to countries like Finland and Georgia saw increased traffic.
The Russian military continues to struggle in Ukraine, having failed to achieve many of its objectives. This has caused anger amongst some of the most outspoken Russian nationalists.
Igor Girkin, a prominent ultra-nationalist is a former Russian intelligence colonel who became a commander of the pro-Russian separatist forces in 2014, has become one of Putin’s most prominent far-right critics, and is disappointed in the Kremlin’s perceived failings in the war.
After Putin announced the partial mobilisation, Girkin said: “The leadership of the Russian Federation have come to an understanding of the total (full victory or full defeat) nature of the war in the so-called Ukraine.”
As the Telegraph reports, just a few hours after making these comments, he accused Russia’s leaders of “treason” and “s***ting on the heads” of its soldiers. This was in response to the Kremlin’s decision to exchange 215 Ukrainian and foreign prisoners of war in exchange for one of Putin’s personal friends.
Girkin said this was “worse than a crime. Worse than a mistake”. He continued, branding the prisoner swap “inadmissible stupidity”. The ultra-nationalist concluded that the decision was the responsibility of “unnamed people at the top of the leadership of the Russian Federation”.
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While Putin has shown a remorseless violent streak since sending his troops into Ukraine, Russian state TV has regularly hosted voices who want him to go escalate the conflict further.
Julia Davis, a Russian media analyst, has shared numerous clips on social media showing the hawkish demands of the country’s far-right. This week, a video shows one propagandist warning that nuclear war is likely, and that “everyone will be destroyed”.
Another says that the “taboos” associated with nuclear attacks “could be lifted in certain circumstances.”
Olga Skabeeva, the host of the Kremlin-controlled programme, added: “We will not allow the destruction of our country. If you’re trying to destroy us, you will be destroyed along with us.
“What should we do to avoid the nuclear war, or is it already a given? It certainly seems that way. If they don’t stop it will become a reality.
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“Push us into a corner, everyone will be destroyed. Is that what they’re trying to achieve?
“Putin said it so succinctly, so clearly. We aren’t threatening war… we don’t want a nuclear winter or nuclear war. But if you declare that we will be destroyed, we will have to destroy you.”
Ms Davis also said in her tweet that there is “palpable frustration in the Russian media that many in the West misunderstood what Putin said — he was threatening the West, not Ukraine, with nuclear strikes. And so, droves of propagandists have been sent out to tell the West: push us into a corner and everybody dies.”
Threats of nuclear attacks coming out of Russia have not been received well in the US. Washington officials have warned the Kremlin this week that Russia will face “catastrophic consequences” if it deploys nuclear weapons.