‘It was Russians’ Putin humiliated as ‘saboteurs’ burn down military sites in war protest

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Dozens of army enlistment offices, railways and police cars have been torched in violent protest at Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Video footage of one incident, shared on Telegram, shows a hooded man launching molotovs at a recruitment centre in Siberia.

It suggests the Kremlin’s TV propaganda – described by ex-Russian state TV journalist Zhanna Agalakova as a “brainwashing machine” – is failing.

Blazes at coal plants, munitions factories, industrial buildings and research centres have also broken out since the war began, on February 24.

The majority of these occurred closer to Ukraine’s border, notably an ammunition depot 25 miles inside Russia – and less than 50 miles from Kharkiv – on March 29.

However, other significant and unexplained fires were much further afield – such as 2,600 miles from Ukraine in Berdsk, which most closely neighbours Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

 

Shocking footage circulating on social media showed the town’s chemical plant engulfed in an enormous cloud of black smoke.

An airbase near port city Vladivostok and coal plant on the island of Sakhalin, both east of China, have also been badly damaged in fires.

While the Kremlin has yet to offer insight on cause, analysts believe they are the work of Russian saboteurs.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian Duma member and anti-Putin activist, wrote on Telegram: “It’s happening everywhere, and that’s why nobody can say that it’s the work of Ukrainian intelligence or Ukrainian saboteurs.”

Russia: Man throws Molotovs into army recruitment office

He added: “Ukrainians could carry out some acts of sabotage close to the border, but they are not doing this in Vladivostok – obviously, it was Russians who did this.”

Igor Sushko, a Ukrainian racecar driver who regularly posts photos and videos on Twitter of alleged sabotage acts in Russia, has said: “Russian saboteurs against Putin continue their heroic work.”

Whether every instance is an act of sabotage cannot be confirmed, but one anti-war activist targeting an enlistment office in Lukhovitsy, in the Moscow region, said: “Russians do not want to become a cargo 200, so they take desperate measures.”

Cargo 200 is a Russian military code term used to refer to the transportation of military fatalities.

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One year of military service is compulsory for young men in Russia, unless they have medical grounds for exemption.

The conscripts are not supposed to be sent to the front line, but many have ended up fighting in Ukraine.

Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, described the mystery outbreaks as “divine intervention”.

He added: “Karma is a cruel thing.”

Other war analysts point to Ukraine drones and helicopters for attacks in range of the border.

Attacks on enlistment offices by anti-war activists come as Putin ramps up his drive for more recruits.

Moscow has scrapped its age limit for professional soldiers (previously 40 years old) to sign up more civilians.

According to estimates by Ukraine and experts in the West, more than 30,000 Russian troops have been killed so far.

On Tuesday, a statement by the Ukrainian General Staff claimed 208 Russian planes, 174 helicopters, 1,358 tanks, 3,302 armoured vehicles, 649 artilleries, 207 rocket launchers and 93 air defence systems have been destroyed.

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