Kremlin rejects reports that 700,000 have fled Russia

Russia was informed via diplomatic channels that there were no plans to invite Moscow to join an investigation into Nord Stream gas leaks.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on screens during a concert marking the declared annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine (photo credit: VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on screens during a concert marking the declared annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine
(photo credit: VIA REUTERS)

The Kremlin on Thursday denied reports that 700,000 Russians have fled the country since Moscow announced a mobilization drive that it said would call up hundreds of thousands to fight in Ukraine.

In a briefing with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have exact figures for how many people had left the country since President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a "partial mobilization" on Sept. 21.

Nord Stream investigations leave Russia out in the cold

Russia was informed via diplomatic channels that there were no plans to invite Moscow to join an investigation into Nord Stream gas leaks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

Europe is investigating what caused three pipelines in the Nord Stream network to burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters that Moscow quickly sought to pin on the West, suggesting the United States stood to gain.

 A gas leak from Nord stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from the Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022.  (credit: Swedish Coast Guard/Handout via TT News Agency/via REUTERS ) A gas leak from Nord stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from the Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022. (credit: Swedish Coast Guard/Handout via TT News Agency/via REUTERS )

This week, the Nord Stream operators said they were unable to inspect the damaged sections because of restrictions imposed by Danish and Swedish authorities who are cordoning off the area of the leaks that occurred in their exclusive economic zones.

"We were informed via diplomatic channels that as of now, there are no plans to ask the Russian side to join investigations," Peskov said, adding that Russia replied it was not possible to conduct an objective investigation without Moscow's participation.

On Tuesday, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said that the area of the Nord Stream gas leaks was "a Swedish crime scene investigation and Denmark runs a Danish crime scene".

"That's the basic matter. We don't usually involve foreign powers in our criminal investigations. That's the basic approach. It is not up for discussion," he told a briefing.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said separately on Thursday that Moscow would insist on a "comprehensive and open investigation" that includes Russian officials and Gazprom GAZP.MM.

"Not to allow the owner to the investigating means there is something to hide from him," Zakharova said.

The Kremlin said on Thursday that it was preparing to welcome the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to Moscow soon.

IAEA head Rafael Grossi was due in Kyiv on Thursday and is set to travel to Moscow after that. The visit is likely to focus on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located in southern Ukraine in territory that Russia has proclaimed its own.

Kremlin claims US appears to agree Ukraine was behind Dugina killing

Officials said on Thursday that Russian intelligence had always argued that Ukraine was behind the August killing of Darya Dugina so it was positive that the United States appeared to share that assessment.

Asked about a report in the New York Times that said US officials believe Ukraine was behind the attack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters it was "positive" that the US appeared to agree with Moscow about Ukraine's alleged involvement in the assassination.

Kyiv on Thursday rejected the claims it was involved in the attack.