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Russia Arrests More Than 1,300 Anti-Mobilization Protesters

Russia’s security forces arrested on Wednesday more than 1,300 people who gathered in various cities to protest against the partial mobilization ordered by Vladimir Putin, who upped the ante in the war in Ukraine with the most serious escalation since the invasion in February.

Independent Russian protest monitoring group OVD-Info says on its front page that 1,314 people were detained on Wednesday during protests against the mobilization of 300,000 reservists which Putin ordered yesterday.

Hundreds were arrested at protests – illegal under Russian law – in the capital Moscow and the second-largest city St Petersburg, according to the group.   

On Wednesday, Putin announced in a televised speech an immediate “partial mobilization” of Russia’s military and claims to be ready to defend "our people" in the Donbas. Four eastern Ukrainian regions under Russian occupation are set to hold rushed referendums to join the Russian Federation amid continued fighting.

Following the announcement of the immediate partial mobilization, one-way flights out of Russia to visa-free destinations for Russians, such as Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, were sold out in hours. 

The first Russian troop mobilization since World War II sent oil prices surging early on Wednesday on fears that escalation of the war could lead to further isolation and more Western sanctions against Russia, including on its energy exports. Security of energy supply, including of gas, is also a concern with the most recent moves from the Kremlin.

Later on Wednesday, oil prirces pared gains and dropped after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory build of 1.1 million barrels for the week to September 16, as well as inventory increases in gasoline and middle distillates. Hours later, oil extended losses after the Fed announced another rate hike by 75 basis points - the third such large increase in rates in a row. The 75-bp hike was largely expected, but it dragged prices down anyway, due to concerns about the economy and oil demand.

Oil opened higher on Thursday amid concerns that an escalation of the war in Ukraine would endanger supply.  

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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