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Russian citizens and migrants are being intimidated to support the war against Ukraine; President Zelensky calls for more military support from the EU


In Russia, many migrants are being recruited to fight in the war against Ukraine. By means of intimidation, many Central Asian migrants have been pressured to sign a military contract by police officers, with threats of possible deportation being made. 


Migrants are being recruited from the prison systems, while ads are promoted in various languages such as Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz to inspire voluntary signing up to the Russian military. 


According to Valentina Chupik, a migrant rights defender, this recruitment process is often not voluntary and use of intimidation and threats are used in order to almost force migrant’s hands into signing the military contract. 


Any protests in Russia against the war in Ukraine are met with immense hostility. One journalist named Marina Ovsyannikova describes her escape from Russia after holding up a ‘no-war sign during a live news broadcast. 


She describes to CNN, “It was a truly dramatic escape; my lawyer kept saying run, you have to escape, otherwise you will be locked up and broken in jail. However, I could not leave because my daughter was taken from me…We were crossing the territory of the Russian Federation by seven different cars…Finally, we managed to guide the GPS signal and made a call to the people on the other side of the border, and they helped us to get through, but otherwise, it was unbearable.’ 


She goes on to explain the current social climate in Russia, particularly Moscow, and how that factors into the overwhelming support for the war that seems to be tangible. 


‘People are just afraid because Putin is spreading out his tentacles and there are enforcement forces everywhere. People are afraid to do anything, because If they come out with a sign saying no to war, first they will get fined, if there is a second time they are caught there will be criminal convictions against them. Basically, they are experiencing the same things that used to be in Stalin times, the political suppressions, threats, and all kinds of punishments just to keep people’s mouths shut.’ 


How is the UK responding to the Russia-Ukraine war? 


In an interview with the BBC, Rishi Sunak assures that the UK maintains a ‘leading role’ in support of the Ukrainian war against Russia. 


He states, 'I also had a very good conversation with President Zelensky with our ability to provide long-range missiles that they don’t currently have, that again are going to make a big difference in the struggle against Russian aggression. And of course, we’re talking about further support, potentially with aircraft. Well, the important first step of that journey is to make sure we provide the training for Ukrainian pilots to be able to use that sophisticated equipment. We announced yesterday that again we will be the first nation to start training Ukrainian pilots on Nato standard aircraft. That's a really positive step forward, and we will continue to stand by Ukraine because we want to see them victorious.’


President Zelensky has made an appeal to EU leaders for fighter jets, to which this statement from Sunak is in response. Is the ‘first step’ of providing ’training for Ukrainian pilots’ the most time-effective approach in dealing with such an imposing threat? While France assures at Zelensky’s speech to Parliament in Brussels that they are ‘determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights', it is to be seen how the UK and other European nations will support Ukraine in supplying arms to support their victory.


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