NEW YORK-At a United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “the very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes” by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The world “can’t let President Vladimir Putin get away with it,” Blinken told his fellow diplomats. His remarks came amid a week of escalatory actions by Moscow, including the mobilization of tens of thousands of troops and planned “sham referenda” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
“That President Putin picked this week, as most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire he started shows his utter contempt and disdain for the UN Charter, the UN General Assembly, and this Council,” Blinken said.
“President Putin is making his choice. Now it’s up to all of our countries to make ours. Tell President Putin to stop the horror he started,” Blinken continued. “Tell him to stop putting his interests above the interests of the rest of the world, including his own people. Tell him to stop debasing this Council and everything it stands for.”
Blinken said the areas of Ukraine that were occupied by Russia offered a view into that “less peaceful world,” noting, “wherever the Russian tide recedes, we’ve discovered the horror that’s left in its wake”, Bucha, Irpin, Izyum, where mass graves have been discovered, survivors have recounted acts of torture.
The top US diplomat called on Russia to cease its nuclear saber rattling, calling Putin’s threat to use “all weapon systems available” to Russia “all the more menacing given Russia’s intention to annex large swaths of Ukraine in the days ahead.” Blinken also stressed the impact the war was having globally on food security, and called out Russian disinformation on WHO-approved vaccine effectiveness.
Social media video from Russia’s land borders with several countries shows long lines of traffic trying to leave the country on the day after President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization.” There were queues at border crossings into Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia. One video showed dozens of vehicles lining up at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Georgia-Russia border overnight Wednesday. That line appears to have grown longer Thursday. One video showed a long queue stretching into the mountains behind the crossing, with a man commenting that it was five to six kilometers long.
Another posted Thursday showed long lines at the Khaykhta crossing into Mongolia.
One man spoke over video recorded at the Troitsk crossing into Kazakhstan, where dozens of cars were lined up Thursday morning. “This is Troitsk, queues of trucks and passenger vehicles ... you can’t see the start or the end of this queue ... everyone, everyone is fleeing Russia, all sorts.”
A senior Kazakh official, Maulen Ashimbaev, had said Kazakhstan could not restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the country, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported earlier Thursday. But Ashimbaev, the speaker of the upper house of the Kazakh parliament, said that in order to obtain a residence permit, applicants must have a set of documents that comply with the law.
It is difficult to compare the current flow of traffic to the average in the absence of official data. Flights from Russia to countries that do not require visas continue to be very busy and frequently sold out. A search on the Aviasales website showed there were no seats available on Moscow-Istanbul one-way economy flights until Sunday — with the lowest price almost $2,900.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed reports of airports crowded with people trying to leave Russia following the announcement, calling it “exaggeration” and “fake news.”