Flights out of Russia were nearly fully booked after President Vladimir Putin said the country will mobilise reservists to fight in Ukraine.
Several news outlets and journalists said on Twitter that Russian airlines have stopped selling tickets to Russian men between 18 and 65 (the fighting age) amid fears that a martial law could be imposed.
Meanwhile, the invasion of Ukraine has caused almost $1 trillion of damage, a Kyiv government official said Thursday, as the war batters the country’s economy.
In terms of “direct and indirect costs” Ukraine had suffered ‘somewhere close to $1 trillion” in damages, said Oleg Ustenko, economic advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The figure was equivalent to five times Ukraine’s annual GDP before the invasion in February, Ustenko said at an event hosted by the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.
Ukraine handed over a key ally of Putin in exchange for hundreds of prisoners of war including many captured in a landmark battle, a swap that outraged pro-Kremlin propagandists.
Viktor Medvedchuk was one of 55 people turned over to Russia in return for 215 prisoners, including 188 who held out for months against Russian assault at the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol early in the war, Zelenskyy said.
Five Ukrainian commanders were also freed as part of the deal on condition that they spent the rest of the war in Turkey under the personal protection of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zelenskiy said. Five UK citizens, two Americans and three other foreigners were also released as part of mediation efforts involving Saudi Arabia, he said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday for playing an “essential” role in the negotiations to free the foreign prisoners, who were flown to Riyadh after their release.
Police detained about 1,400 people at protests in 38 Russian cities Wednesday against the mobilization order, according to the OVD-Info monitoring group. Some of the male detainees were handed draft notices.
Britain on Thursday formally lifted a moratorium on fracking for shale gas, saying strengthening energy supply was an ‘absolute priority’.
Energy prices have soared in Europe after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Britain is subsidising bills for households and businesses at a predicted cost of more than 100 billion pounds ($113 billion).
Prime Minister Liz Truss said earlier this month that fracking — extracting shale gas from rocks by breaking
them up — would be allowed where it was supported by communities.