Russia’s anti-war movement called for a fresh wave of protests against the war in Ukraine, after President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s first mobilisation since the Second World War. 

The partial mobilisation  will allow for up to 300,000 active Russian Army reservists to be sent to fight in Ukraine. Until now, Moscow called its invasion a “special military operation,” which limited those who can fight to volunteers, contract soldiers, and Russian-backed militias. The order will also make it more difficult for those who volunteered to leave the fighting, amid reports of mass desertions and resignations by Russian soldiers. 

During his televised address on Wednesday morning, Putin also accused NATO members supporting Ukraine of “crossing the line” and making threats to use nuclear weapons. “This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them,” he said.

In response to Putin’s escalation,  Vesna – The Youth Democratic Movement – called for fresh demonstrations in towns and cities across Russia from 7pm local time.  It also called on those serving in Russian units in Ukraine not to “participate in the fighting and to surrender” as soon as possible. “You don’t have to die for Putin…You are needed in Russia by those who love you. For the authorities, you are just cannon fodder, where you will be squandered without any meaning or purpose,” the statement added. 

Fuel on the Fire

Meanwhile, a leading Ukrainian peace activist said the influx of weapons into Ukraine by the UK and NATO allies risked prolonging the war. Speaking to the Morning Star, the head of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, Yurii Sheliazhenko said promoting dialogue over mass killing was of the upmost importance. “What we really need is multi-track diplomacy and peaceful solution, ceasefire and comprehensive inclusive peace talks seeking reconciliation not only between Ukraine and Russia but also between the East and West,” he said. 

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson expressed her solidarity with peace activists in both Russia and Ukraine: “As Putin escalates his illegal invasion of Ukraine with more nuclear threats, CND stands in solidarity with the growing number of courageous Russians coming out to publicly oppose this war. We must also stand in solidarity with those in Ukraine who continue to call for peace and dialogue under incredibly  difficult circumstances. The longer this conflict continues, the closer we come to it escalating into a nuclear confrontation.”