Sept. 26 (BP) — A Russian military officer in charge of a local draft to sign men up for the war in Ukraine was seriously injured in a shooting attack amid protests against President Vladimir Putin’s widening invasion.
The attack was carried out by a Russian conscript Monday in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, in the Irkutsk region of Siberia.
The camouflaged assailant in the Siberian incident, who identified himself on surveillance footage as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin, allegedly opened fire at least three times on the official in a room full of other potential draftees, police said.
Igor Kobzev, the regional governor in Irkutsk, said the officer was in critical condition at the hospital and fighting for his life. He vowed that the assailant “will absolutely be punished.”
The suspect has been arrested on felony charges of endangering the life of a police officer and illegal weapons possession.
Gunfire erupted right after the Russian field officer gave a spirited speech to motivate the men to continue the fight in Ukraine, which Russia has occupied since February.
“Nobody is going to go anywhere,” the suspect said before pulling his firearm, according to The Guardian, which cited local news reports from inside Russia.
Last Wednesday, a defiant Putin announced the national mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian army reservists, a move that sparked widespread protests across the country in which hundreds of people have been arrested. Thousands of civilians have also fled the country in an effort to resist the call-up.
Some analysts say Putin is growing more desperate in Ukraine following recent embarrassments on the battlefield, including a Ukrainian counteroffensive in which Russia was forced to give up thousands of miles of territory that it gained since the start of the conflict.
Putin has also recently sought to shore up his alliances with China and other Western adversaries after suffering devastating losses in the war, including the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers, while thousands of tanks, equipment and weapons have also been destroyed, according to Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces.
The shooting took place on the same day that another gunman opened fire at a school in central Russia, killing at least 13 people and wounding 21 others.