Putin grants Russian citizenship to US fugitive Edward Snowden: Ukraine live updates

Former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden, a fugitive of American authorities who has been living in Russia since 2013, was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin on Monday at a time of high tension between the countries because of the war in Ukraine.

Putin signed a decree Monday conferring citizenship to 75 foreign nationals, including Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. after leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programs. He received permanent Russian residency in 2020.

Snowden, 39, said at the time that he would retain his American citizenship and hoped one day to return to the U.S., where he was charged in 2013 with violating the Espionage Act. He has denied sharing information with Russian intelligence agents.

“Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

Despite his new citizenship, Snowden won't be eligible to get mobilized into the Russian army because he hasn't served before, his lawyer,  Anatoly Kucherena, told the Interfax news agency.

Recent battlefield losses prompted Putin to call up 300,000 civilians last week while making barely veiled threats of using his nuclear arsenal. The U.S. government responded by saying such a move would have "catastrophic consequences'' for Russia.

Russian recruits gather outside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.
Russian recruits gather outside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

Other developments:

►Voting wraps up Tuesday in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine where the Kremlin has authored referendums to allow annexation of the land. “The Russians are seeing the citizens' fear and reluctance to vote, so they are forced to take people in,” said Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of the Russia-held city of Melitopol. Ukraine, the U.S. and many other nations have dismissed the referendums as "shams."

►More than $12 billion in Ukraine-related aid will be included in the stopgap spending bill that would fund the federal government through mid-December, the Associated Press reported.

►Japan’s government on Monday banned the export of materials that may be used for chemical weapons to 21 Russian organizations, including science laboratories, and it expressed concern about Putin's recent nuclear threats.

►A ship carrying thousands of tons of corn and vegetable oil has arrived in northern Lebanon from Ukraine, the first of its kind since Russia’s invasion started seven months ago.

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Russian draft targets Crimean Tatars to 'exterminate' them, Zelenskyy says

The Russian military mobilization that has prompted legions of men to flee the country and sparked large protests appears to have a discriminatory component to it as well.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia's draft was targeting Crimean Tatars -- an ethnic group indigenous to the Ukrainian peninsula the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014 -- and he accused Vladimir Putin's government of trying to "physically exterminate men — representatives of Indigenous peoples.”

Tatars make up 13-15% of Crimea's population but have received about 90% of the summons for the Russian army issued in the peninsula, the human rights group CrimeaSOS said, adding that forcing people to fight against their fellow citizens is a war crime.

"Forced mass conscription of Crimean Tatars in Crimea — a real ethnic genocide and an enormous tragedy for the entire nation,'' Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. "Forcing citizens to a war in the occupied regions is nothing more than Moscow’s attempt to cleanse the territory of a disloyal population.''

'High attrition rate' expected among new draftees

Russia has already issued several tens of thousands of draft notices and will encounter major logistical challenges training the new troops, many of whom haven’t had military experience for years, the British Ministry of Defense said in an update.

That adds to the belief among some experts that the new conscripts will largely serve as “cannon fodder.’’

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilization, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation,’’ the ministry said. “They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.’’

Man shoots commandant at Russian enlistment office

A man entered a military enlistment office in the Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk on Monday and shot the military commandant at close range, according to Russian media reports. The man, identified in the media as 25-year-old local resident Ruslan Zinin, said “no one will go to fight” and “we will all go home now.”

"In hot pursuit, the suspect in the crime was detained by the National Guard," investigators for the Irkutsk region said in a statement.

Local authorities said the military commandant was in intensive care. Zinin reportedly was upset that a call-up notice was served to his best friend who didn’t have any combat experience. Military experience was supposed to be the primary criteria for the draft.

Russia's mobilization will be inefficient and costly, study says

Russia's “partial" military mobilization will generate additional forces but inefficiently and with high domestic social and political costs, a U.S. think tank said Monday in an assessment of the war.

President Vladimir Putin announced the effort last week amid a Ukraine counteroffensive that has pushed his forces off thousands of miles of land it had seized earlier in the 7-month-old war. His defense ministry says the mobilization will add about 300,000 soldiers to the Russian military.

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The assessment from the Institute for the Study of War says forces generated by the partial mobilization are unlikely to "add substantially to the Russian military’s net combat power in 2022." Putin must fix "basic flaws" in the Russian military personnel and equipment systems if mobilization is to have any significant impact even in the longer term, the assessment adds.

Putin's "actions thus far suggest that he is far more concerned with rushing bodies to the battlefield than with addressing these fundamental flaws," the assessment says.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: Edward Snowden granted Russian citizenship