Shooting and Molotov cocktail attacks at conscription offices after Putin’s mobilisation order

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A man has opened fire on an enlistment centre and another recruitment office has been attacked with Molotov cocktails – after Vladimir Putin ordered the conscription of at least 300,000 men in Russia.

The violence comes as the first tranche of people ordered to report for duty arrive at military bases, and it follows a weekend of protests, violence and arrests as Russians voice their anger and demonstrate over the president’s mobilisation plan.

Kremlin admits ‘mistakes’ – latest updates

The gunman opened fire at a conscription office in the town of Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk – critically wounding a military recruitment officer.

Sky News has verified a video of the shooting – reportedly by a would-be conscript.

It shows the gunman shooting the recruiter at point blank range, who falls to the ground as others at the draft office start running out of the room to the sounds of a woman screaming.

He was detained by police and identified himself as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin in a separate video posted on social media.

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More online footage showed the victim being carried out of the building on a stretcher to an ambulance.

Irkutsk region governor Igor Kobzev wrote on the Telegram messaging app that the recruitment officer was in hospital in a critical condition, adding the detained gunman “will absolutely be punished”.

It comes just days after the Russian president – faced with a series of defeats in Ukraine – announced a partial mobilisation that could see 300,000 reserves called up to fight.

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Arson attack at Russian enlistment office

Molotov cocktail attack

Elsewhere, a man was seen throwing Molotov cocktails at a military registration and enlistment office in Uryupinsk, in footage circulating on social media.

It shows the man driving a car up to the entrance of the local government building in the centre of the Russian town.

He can then be seen lighting several Molotov cocktails, throwing them one by one at the entrance to the building.

Town officials confirmed the building was set on fire early this morning, and a man was detained. Damage was minimal and no one was injured, they added.

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Russian cop ‘chased’ by female protesters

At least 20 recruitment offices have been torched as resistance to the draft grows, and military-aged men have been fleeing in droves.

“Everyone who is of conscription age should be banned from travelling abroad in the current situation,” Sergei Tsekov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, told RIA news agency on Monday.

Russia faces an administrative and logistical challenge to provide training for the new recruits, the UK Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update.

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Protesters block road in Russia

Many tens of thousands of call-up papers have already been issued.

“Many of the drafted troops will not have had any military experience for some years,” the MoD said.

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilisation, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation.

“They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.”

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‘High-risk strategy for Putin’

Videos have emerged showing men being forced onto buses as many citizens refused to take part in the war.

Protests over mobilisation have taken place in more than a dozen cities across Russia, with girls as young as 14 years old detained.

Hundreds of people were arrested over the weekend, and there were major protests in the Dagestan region yesterday.

Sky correspondent Alex Rossi in Moscow said: “Russia is a very heavily securitised police state. Dissent isn’t tolerated, but there have been sporadic protests all over the country. Thousands of people have been arrested, protesting against what the Kremlin is calling a partial mobilisation, but really, what to you and I, looks like mass conscription.”

The call-up of 300,000 reserves is almost double the initial invasion force, “so is a reflection really of how badly things are going on the battlefield, and shows that they have a very significant manpower problem”, he said.

Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation line up outside a recruitment office in the Siberian town of Tara in the Omsk region, Russia September 26, 2022. REUTERS/Alexey Malgavko
Image:
Reservists in the Siberian town of Tara in the Omsk region, Russia

In a rare admission that things are not going to plan, the Kremlin acknowledged mistakes have been made in its military recruitment – and that some call-ups had been issued in error and would be corrected.

“It all gives the impression of the vulnerability of a supposed military superpower,” said Rossi.

“There is not a big anti-draft movement yet but the longer all this goes on the greater the possibility of it happening.

“It’s no wonder Vladimir Putin resisted a nationwide draft for so long, it is a high-risk strategy for him and his regime.”

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Will Russian mobilisation make a difference?

General Sir Richard Barrons, a former head of the Joint Forces Command, told Sky News some individuals who are mobilised may find themselves on the front line in Ukraine very quickly.

“Of course, they wouldn’t necessarily be very enthusiastic about that,” he said. “And they won’t be very well trained, and are probably not very well equipped for this kind of mobilisation to make a difference.

“Russia would have to invest in training and equipping these large numbers of people that would take them well into next year. And it just doesn’t look like they have the training machinery, the logistics or the weapons to make this really work any time soon.”

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Zelenskyy’s message to Russian soldiers

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said Russian soldiers who die in the war will be cleansed of all their sins.

Patriarch Kirill – a key Putin ally who has previously criticised those who oppose the war and called on Russians to rally round the Kremlin – said while he hoped the war would “end as soon as possible”, those who enlist to fight and are killed in the line of duty would be seen to have “committed an act equivalent to sacrifice”.

“They will have sacrificed themselves for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed,” he said in his first Sunday address since the mobilisation order.

As Russia steps up its conscription of citizens, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged opposition troops to surrender to his country’s forces.

On Monday, President Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held an unannounced meeting in the southern Russian city of Sochi and said they were ready to cooperate with the West “if they treat us with respect”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi
Image:
Vladimir Putin (R) held talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko

‘Sham’ referendums

It comes as “sham” referendums continue in contested territory, which could lead to the formal annexation of Ukraine’s land.

They are being held in the self-declared Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR), and in Russian-occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

The move comes eight years after a similar process in Russian-occupied Crimea, which Moscow said was justification for annexing the peninsula.

Sky’s security and defence editor Deborah Haynes in Dnipro, Ukraine, said the move was “a further escalation of the war”.

“There is no sign on the Ukraine side that they are backing down, but they are clearly going to have to counter an ever-increasing Russian force as they try to defend their territory and win back their land,” she added.

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