Latvia says it will not welcome Russians fleeing mobilization

Some Western nations have suggested they will not provide asylum or refuge to people fleeing Russia after President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Putin, after speaking about Moscow’s nuclear weapons, warned Western countries that Russia will use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory, saying “this not a bluff”.

Soon after, Latvia, which borders Russia, said it will not offer refuge to any Russians escaping Moscow’s mobilization of troops.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote on Twitter: “Due to security reasons, Latvia will not issue humanitarian or other types of visas to those Russian citizens who avoid mobilisation.”

Meanwhile, Finland’s defense minister said it was closely monitoring the situation in neighbouring Russia, adding there were grounds for tightening the country’s visa policy for Russian citizens.

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“Regarding Finland’s surroundings, I can say that the military situation is stable and calm,” Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said. “Our defense forces are well prepared and the situation is closely monitored.”

Russia’s defense minister told a state media outlet the mobilization will see some 300,000 additional personnel called up to serve in Ukraine.

Other nations including the United States, Netherlands and the United Kingdom condemned the move.

Ukraine’s presidential adviser said the Russian decision was an “absolutely predictable appeal” and evidence that the war was “clearly not going” Moscow’s way.

The order for mobilization came a day after Putin gave his support to referendums on joining Russia that will be held in the coming days in four Ukrainian regions controlled by Russian troops, the first step to formally annexing a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary.

Western nations have dismissed the votes as a sham.

The self-styled Donetsk (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR), which Putin recognized as independent just before the invasion began on February 24, and Russian-installed officials in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, have announced plans for votes.

“We will support the decision on their future, which will be made by the majority of residents in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Zaporizhia and Kherson,” Putin said.

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