Russia has toughened penalties for soldiers voluntarily surrendering or refusing to fight, with up to 10 years imprisonment, and it replaced its top logistics general after a series of setbacks to its seven-month war in Ukraine.
Those developments come days after Russia instigated a partial mobilisation affecting up to 300,000 additional troops, at a time when Kyiv has taken back more and more territory in a stunning counter-offensive.
Seemingly in response to the new Russian penalties, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly addressed Russian citizens on Saturday, telling them that their president was knowingly “sending citizens to their death.”
Speaking in Russian, he called on Moscow’s forces to surrender, saying, “You will be treated in a civilized manner… No one will know the circumstances of your surrendering.”
His pointed remarks came as Kremlin-held regions of eastern and southern Ukraine voted for a second day on whether to become part of Russia, dramatically raising the stakes in the conflict.