MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in four regions of Ukraine on Wednesday, as Moscow granted emergency powers to all regional governors in Russia, opening the door to expanding new restrictions across the country.
Putin did not immediately specify what measures would be taken under martial law, but said his order would take effect on Thursday. His order gave law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific plans and ordered the creation of regional security forces in annexed territories.
The upper house of the Russian parliament quickly adopted Putin’s decision to impose martial law in the annexed regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporozhye. The approved legislation indicated that the declaration would include restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship and broader powers for law enforcement agencies.
“We are working to solve the most difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future and protect our people,” Putin said in televised remarks at the start of a Security Council meeting. “Those who are on the front lines or training in firing ranges and training centers need to feel our support and know that our great, great country and united people are behind them.”
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said 11 people were killed and 15 wounded when two soldiers opened fire on a military firing range near Ukraine. The ministry said two unnamed former Soviet republics opened fire on the volunteer soldiers. Return fire.
Putin did not provide details on the additional powers that heads of Russian regions will have under his mandate. However, the order states that the measures envisaged by martial law may be introduced “when necessary” anywhere in Russia.
According to Russian law, martial law may require banning public gatherings, introducing travel bans and curfews, and conducting censorship, among other restrictions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin’s order was not expected to close Russia’s borders, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. In an apparent attempt to calm a nervous public, regional officials rushed to announce that no immediate curfews or restrictions on travel were planned.
Putin ordered the mobilization of military reservists last month, prompting hundreds of thousands of men to flee Russia.
The Russian president on Wednesday ordered the establishment of a coordination group to increase coordination between government agencies to deal with the conflict in Ukraine, which Putin continued to call a “special military operation.”
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who was named to lead the group, said it would focus on increasing the supply of weapons and military equipment, carrying out construction work and facilitating transportation.
In Russia’s regions bordering Ukraine, authorities plan to tighten security at key facilities and conduct checks on motorists, among other measures, said Andriy Kartabolov, head of the security committee of the Russian lower house of parliament.
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