Albertans worried about loved ones after Putin signs mobilization decree

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Calgary’s Sergey Abramov clutched the screen of his phone, his eyes fixed on a video from Russia.

A child is heard crying for his papa, who is reportedly being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Abramov and his wife Tatiana Artemyeva have called Calgary home for 13 years. But their thoughts have been with family and friends back home in Russia and also all those in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilization of troops and reiterated his threats of using nuclear weapons in the event Russian territory is threatened. Russia’s defense minister said 300,000 reservists would be called up to fight in Ukraine.

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“I’m worried about all the guys who are the same age as I am — all my classmates and school-mates — could potentially be sent in the truck to be sent to Ukraine,” said Abramov, who received some training himself when he lived in Russia.

“They say it’s a ‘partial mobilization’ but it’s a tricky word. It’s not partial,” Artemyeva added.

“It can come to anyone’s house and we know how it’s done in Russia. The justice system doesn’t work, so it can’t protect people.”

Artemyeva has been helping Ukrainians since the war first broke out.

“This is horrible. We are very worried about many of our friends,” she said. “No one that we know wants to go and participate in this war. People are just very scared.”

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Putin’s annoucement comes following a list of setbacks for the Kremlin in its offensive against Ukraine, including a successful Ukrainian counter offensive in Kharkiv, a city only about an hour away from the Russian border.

Liza Kanishcheva grew up in Kharkiv and now calls Canmore home. Her parents fled Ukraine in March and now live with their daughter.

“Mobilization means the war is going to continue and there’s going to be a lot of loss of life not just of Ukrainians but Russians as well,” Nikolai Kanishcheva said in Russian, translated by his daughter.

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Liza has been selling t-shirts and stickers, and holding fundraising dinners.

She’s raised enough money to send three drones and 14 explosion-proof lights to fire fighters and her former classmates now fighting on the frontlines. She insists Putin’s threats will not reduce the fortitude of the Ukrainian fighters.

“(Russia’s army) structure is going to break at some point, but we are fighting for truth,” Liza said.

While the recent threats and ramping up of Russian forces no doubt feeds uncertainty, hope still prevails in people like Liza’s parents.

With tears swelling in her eyes, Liza’s mother said she hopes to see her mother and son again.

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