Ukraine war – live: UN showdown looms as 1,300 detained at anti-mobilisation protests

Full speech: Zelensky tells UN Ukraine is ready for ‘true, honest and fair peace’

A showdown is looming at the United Nations as Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov meets with his counterparts on the Security Council, a day after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky called for Moscow to receive “just punishment” for its invasion.

Mr Zelensky’s video address, in which he called for Moscow to be stripped of its UN veto – a power which has stopped the council from taking meaningful action despite meeting at least 20 times to discuss the war – came on the same day his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilisation of Moscow’s reserve forces and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Mr Zelensky called on the world leaders gathered at the UNGA to bring retribution against Russia for causing “catastrophic turbulence” to their own economies with its “illegal war”.

Meanwhile, police arrested more than 1,300 people at protests held across Russia in response to Mr Putin’s order for as many as 300,000 military reservists to prepare for service in his country’s struggling campaign against its neighbour.

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Russian arrivals at Finnish border ‘intensifies’ overnight

Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia has “intensified” during the night, the Scandinavian country’s border guard said early this morning.

Finland is closely monitoring the situation in Russia following Vladimir Putin’s order of military mobilisation, Finland’s defence minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday.

Border guards were ready at nine checkpoints after 4,824 Russians arrived in Finland via the eastern border, up from 3,133 a week earlier, the border guard’s head of international affairs Matti Pitkaniitty said.

However, the number of people crossing the border on Wednesday was lower than during the weekend, he told Reuters.

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Hungary’s Orban says EU sanctions against Russia should be scrapped

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has reportedly told his party Fidesz that sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union should be scrapped

His comments at a behind-doors meeting on Wednesday were reported by the pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet late on Wednesday and later confirmed to Rueters by a government spokesperson.

Mr Orban was quoted as saying – without giving a source – that the EU sanctions have driven up gas prices and inflation, and if these measures were to be scrapped, gas prices would drop by 50 per cent immediately while inflation would also fall.

Without sanctions, Europe could regain strength and could avoid a looming recession, the report quoted Mr Orban as saying, reiterating his earlier stance that the sanctions were hurting Europe more than Russia.

On his Facebook page, Orban posted from the party meeting: “The Brussels sanctions have pushed Europe into an energy crisis.”

In July, Orban said the EU had “shot itself in the lungs” with ill-considered economic sanctions on Russia, which, unless rolled back, risked destroying the European economy.

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Russia’s Sergei Lavrov readies for showdown at UN summit

A diplomatic showdown is looming later today when the UN Security Council meets over atrocities committed in Ukraine, with Kyiv demanding that Russia be punished for its invasion and stripped it of its security council veto.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday called for special United Nations tribunal to impose “just punishment” on Russia and for Moscow to be stripped of its Security Council veto – a power which has stopped the council from taking any meaningful action over the war.

In what will be at least the 20th time the council has met on Ukraine this year, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will face off with his Ukrainian and Western counterparts as the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan brief the 15-member council.

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Russia to struggle with mustering 300,000 troops in new mobilisation move, claims UK

Russia is likely to struggle in gathering the 300,000 personnel to support its war in Ukraine, the British defence ministry said today.

“Russia is likely to struggle with the logistical and administrative challenges of even mustering the 300,000 personnel. It will probably attempt to stand up new formations with many of these troops, which are unlikely to be combat effective for months,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

Vladimir Putin announced a ‘partial mobilisation’ to support operations in Ukraine yesterday amid major setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine.

Shortly after, Russian defence minister Shoigu said that the move would involve the mobilisation of 300,000 reservist troops.

“Even this limited mobilisation is likely to be highly unpopular with parts of the Russian population. Putin is accepting considerable political risk in the hope of generating much needed combat power,” the British MoD said.

It added that the move is “effectively an admission that Russia has exhausted its supply of willing volunteers to fight in Ukraine.”

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North Korea says did not send arms to Russia, calls US intelligence ‘fake’

North Korea has denied exporting any weapons to Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine and said it does not intend on sending any, dubbing the US intelligence reports of weapon trade as “rumours” and “fake”.

An unnamed North Korean defence official has asked the US to stop making “reckless remarks” and to “keep its mouth shut”, according to a state media report.

Export and import of military equipment is a “lawful right peculiar to a sovereign state,” the official said, even as such a transfer would violate United Nations resolutions banning the country from importing or exporting weapons.

“But we take this opportunity to make clear one thing. We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them,” said the official, working as a vice director general of the national defence ministry’s general equipment bureau.

“It is not sure from where the rumour originated which the US is spreading, but it is aimed at tarnishing the DPRK’s image,” the official said.

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Russia, Ukraine exchange around 300 prisoners

Officials in Russia and Ukraine successfully carried out a prisoner swap and exchanged around 300 people, out of which Kyiv received 215 fighters from key battles of Azov and Mariupol.

“We are bringing our people home. Exchange has just finished. Today we have 215 pieces of good news. 215!” announced Mr Zelensky in his late night address.

He lauded several fighters and said the country has received 188 “heroes” from the bloodied fight in Azovstal.

This is the largest prisoner swap carried out since the war began and also included 10 foreigners and commanders who prolonged Ukrainian defence in Mariupol before it fell to Russia.

“These are warriors of the national guard, our army, the navy, border guards, policemen, warriors of the territorial defence, employees of the security service of Ukraine and others,” Mr Zelensky said.

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EU leaders to press more sanctions on Russia, send arms to Ukraine

EU foreign ministers are looking to launch fresh sanctions on Russia and boost weapon deliveries to Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s order of the first wartime mobilisation since the Second World War.

A formal meeting will take place between the EU ministers next month where they are set to discuss the sanctions package and formalise the restrictions to be imposed on Moscow.

EU chief Josep Borrell said there will be “unanimous” support among the bloc for the upcoming measures.

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Putin’s military mobilisation, nuke threat sign of failing Ukraine invasion – Trudeau

Vladimir Putin’s military mobilisation order and his nuclear threat confirm that Russia’s invasion in Ukraine is failing, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said in New York where world leaders have gathered for the United Nations general assembly.

“Canada condemns Putin’s irresponsible escalation of the war, his partial military mobilisation, his nuclear threats, as well as Russia’s rushed referendums to try to annex parts of Ukraine are unacceptable,” Mr Trudeau said.

“Putin’s behaviour only goes to show that his invasion is failing,” he added.

The conscription order issued by the Russian leader was “a step closer to admitting what he has not wanted to admit to Russians … an example of things not going to his plan,” Mr Trudeau said.

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Russia releases Ukrainian prisoners – Suspline

Russia has released some of the Ukrainian fighters it took prisoner after a protracted battle for the port city of Mariupol earlier this year, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspline said on Wednesday.

Suspline, citing the Azov battalion unit that did much of the fighting, said an exchange had happened near the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. It gave no details.

The Telegram account of Andriy Biletsky, original founder of the Azov battalion, showed him giving a victory sign with the caption “In service” as he held one of the captives. Reuters was not immediately able to verify when the photo had been taken.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia said Russia had released 10 foreign prisoners of war captured in Ukraine following mediation by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Five British nationals were among the freed.

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Putin makes nuclear threat to West

In a dramatic escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of military forces in a special address to the nation on Wednesday (David Harding writes).

Putin said members of the military reserve, some 300,000 people, especially those with experience of active duty, would be called up, a move which comes after Moscow has faced a number of military setbacks seven months after it invaded Ukraine.

And in an apparent threat to the West, he warned against “nuclear blackmail”, threatening to respond with the might of his own vast arsenal. He said he was not bluffing over using all the means at his disposal to protect Russia’s territory, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Russia’s nuclear capability.

“We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military speciality and relevant experience,” Putin said.

His address alarmed many across the world and caused thousands of Russians to try and flee the country.

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