Ukraine has called up the country’s reservists and asked its citizens to leave Russia “immediately” after Russia invaded the eastern part of the country on Monday.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that Ukraine could face a battle for its very existence, but ruled out a general mobilization in an evening address to the nation.
The decision to bring reservists back into active duty was a further sign that Ukraine was bracing for a possible military clash with its neighbor.
The military said that the maximum service period would be a year, and recruits with certain skills, such as mechanics, will be posted to specialist units. Officials added that people who ignore the call-up could face “criminal responsibility.”
Experts estimate that around 900,000 people serve in Ukraine’s reserve defense force.
Zelenskiy told his country it must “increase the readiness of the Ukrainian army for all possible changes in the operational situation.” He added: “We need to promptly replenish the Ukrainian army and other military formations.”
The Ukrainian leader’s defiant speech came after the US said on Wednesday that the invasion it had forecast for weeks had finally begun. Zelenskiy said that Ukraine is a peaceful country, but its people would not stay quiet in the face of aggression.
“If we remain silent today, we will disappear tomorrow. We have hard work ahead, every day, but we are ready for it, with confidence in ourselves, our country and victory,” he said.
Ukraine urges citizens to leave Russia
On Wednesday Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia immediately, citing the threat of a Russian invasion that could complicate the provision of consular services.
“Because of the escalating Russian aggression against Ukraine, which can lead to a substantial reduction in possible consular assistance in Russia, the foreign ministry urges the citizens of Ukraine to refrain from travel to Russia, and for those in that country to leave its territory immediately,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Maxar Technologies, a US space technology company, has published several satellite images showing what it says are new troop and equipment deployments in western Russia, and more than 100 vehicles in southern Belarus — all close to Ukraine’s borders.
Russia and Belarus have been staging massive exercises on Belarusian soil in recent days. Neither has commented on the images.
Related: The History of Donbass’ Donetsk and Luhansk Regions
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