The chief of staff of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has told Russian troops to surrender if they want “a chance to live,” claiming they will otherwise be killed.
Andrey Yermak made the threat on Tuesday to reservists who are entering military service under the partial mobilization announced last week in Russia.
“Mobilized Russians who surrender will have a chance to keep their lives. The rest of them will not,” he tweeted.
Other senior Ukrainian officials have made similar statements since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military draft last Wednesday. Zelensky himself urged mobilized Russians to “protest, fight, run or surrender,” claiming that those were the options for them “to survive.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday that the mobilization would see some 300,000 reservists called to arms. He explained that additional troops were required to control Russian-held areas and the 1,000km contact line with Ukrainian forces.
READ MORE: Zelensky promises ‘comfortable’ stay in Turkey for Neo-Nazis
Russia has amended its criminal code, making voluntary surrender during wartime a serious felony. People found guilty of the crime face up to ten years in prison under the new legislation, which was signed into law by President Putin last Saturday.
The largest exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine, which was mediated by Türkiye, took place last week. Among the Ukrainian troops that Moscow agreed to set free were dozens of members of the neo-Nazi Azov regiment.