The Russian president expressed his fury over a recent Ukrainian strike on January 1, just after his officials allegedly began forcing suspected illegal migrants celebrating New Year’s Eve to sign up.
Three thousand people were rounded up in St Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, according to the Kremlin’s RIA news agency, when Russian officials were allegedly trying to “prevent crime” with their patrols.
More than 600 of those detained supposedly broke Russia’s immigration laws, according to the Moscow Times, as they failed to complete their compulsory military registration.
Migrants from central Asia – including Armenia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgzstan – often end up as a key part of the labour force in Russia. And, as the war has isolated the country, with sanctions limiting its economy, they have become even more essential to Russia.
But, as almost two years of war has taken a serious toll on Russian ranks, officials allegedly gave some migrants military summonses on the spot, the Moscow Times reported. Others were forced to go to military enlistment offices.
Officials raided areas near metro stations and in public spaces where others were ringing in the new year.
In December, Putin said Russia has more than 10 million labour migrants and said it was not “an easy problem” to resolve.
Russia is currently trying to expand its armed forces, and has also extended the age limit for compulsory military service.
Putin also signed a decree to increase the maximum size of armed forces to 1.32 million last month.
Hours after this reported round-up of migrants, the Russian president explained that he was “boiling with rage” over the latest development in the war.
The president expressed fury that the Russian border city of Belgorod was hit in the last days of 2023, killing at least 25 people and wounding over 100 others in what he described as a “terrorist act”.
During a televised meeting with veterans of the war in Ukraine, Putin said: “They want to scare us, to create a certain uncertainty inside the country.
“From our side, we will build up the strikes.”
He said that Russia will not stop attacking Ukraine, adding: “We will keep doing it. We are doing it today, and we will do it tomorrow.”
But, Putin maintained they would only target military structures.
According to Associated Press’ translation, he said: “Of course, we can hit public squares in Kyiv and in any other Ukrainian city.
“I understand – I’m boiling with rage – but do we need to hit civilians? No. We are hitting military targets and that’s what we will keep doing.”