Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately announced Partial packing. of Russian citizens on Wednesday, in a move that threatens to escalate his faltering invasion of Ukraine after a series of defeats That caused an exchange of accusations in Moscow.
Putin said in a speech that he would use “every means available to us” and would even raise the specter of nuclear weapons, if he considered that “the territorial integrity of Russia” was under threat.
The mobilization means the possibility of calling up citizens who are in reserve and subjecting those with military experience to compulsory conscription, Putin said, adding that the necessary decree had already been signed and entered into force on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Russian television on Wednesday morning that his country would call up 300,000 reservists. “These are not some people who have never heard of the military,” Shoigu said. “These are the ones who have served, have a major in military registration, and have military experience.”
comes after The sudden and successful Ukrainian attack Through the most busy Kharkiv Momentum in the conflict swung toward Kyiv this month. The counterattack motivated and caused Ukraine’s western supporters Anger in Russiawhich has repeatedly hampered its all-out assault on its neighboring country, which it launched seven months ago.
“Our country also has various means of destruction and in some components are more modern than those of NATO countries, and if the territorial integrity of our country is endangered, we will certainly use all the means available to us to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in his speech on Wednesday indicating a possible new chapter in the ongoing conflict. months ago.
Turning to the possibility of escalation and use of nuclear weapons, Putin said: “Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”
The announcement comes as Russia is believed to be facing a manpower shortage and after amendments to Russia’s law on military service announced on Tuesday, which lifted resistance penalties related to military service or coercion for violating an official military order during a period of mobilization or martial law. .
Putin framed the ongoing fight as part of a larger struggle for Russia’s survival against the West whose goal is to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country.” Several Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine have announced that they will do so Referendums on whether to join Russia officially This week, votes that were widely dismissed as fakes are meant to bolster Putin’s justifications for more attacks on Ukrainian soil.
“They are already directly saying that they were able to split the Soviet Union in 1991, and now it’s time for Russia to split into many regions and regions that are mortally hostile to each other,” Putin said.
But NATO leaders dismissed the announcement as a sign of panic in the Kremlin, and reiterated their commitment to supporting the Ukrainian army.
US President Joe Biden condemned the Kremlin’s planned mobilization and vote during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
“Only today, President Putin made public nuclear threats to Europe…Now Russia is calling in more soldiers to join the fight, and the Kremlin is organizing mock referendums to try to annex parts of Ukraine,” Biden said. The world must see these atrocities for what they are.
“Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened, but no one threatened Russia — and no one other than Russia sought conflict,” Biden added.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz described the mobilization as an “act of desperation”.
Russia cannot win this war. “This is kind of a panic reaction,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte added on Wednesday.
The referendums, which Putin endorsed during his Wednesday speech, may pave the way for Russia’s annexation of the regions, allowing Moscow to frame the current Ukrainian counter-offensive there as an attack on Russia itself, thus providing Moscow with a pretext to escalate its military response.
In what appeared to be a coordinated announcement, Russia-appointed leaders in the occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic said they intended to hold “votes” beginning on September 23.
The four regions that announced their plans for a referendum make up about 18% of Ukraine’s territory. Russia does not control any of the four in its entirety.
The expected referendums, contrary to international law supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, were announced as world leaders arrived in New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, as the war and its aftermath were about to loom.
Ukraine has Refusal to announce referendums In the occupied territories as a “pseudo” stemming from “fear of defeat”, while the country’s Western supporters indicated that they would not change their support for Ukraine.
US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that “Referendums and bogus mobilizations are signs of Russian weakness and failure. The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to Ukrainian territory allegedly annexed, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes.”
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia had been asked by the “people’s republics” and from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions for referendums, and pledged to do “everything to ensure safe conditions for people to express their will.”
The ads have already received swift support from Russian politicians. Former Russian President and Deputy Chairman of the Russian National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev publicly supported the referendums in the unilaterally declared Donbass republics, saying that this would be of “great importance” for the “systemic protection” of the population.
“The encroachment on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all the forces of self-defense,” Medvedev said in his Telegram channel, clearly referring to the possibility of a military escalation.
But a social media video geolocated by CNN showed protests in several Russian cities on Wednesday, each involving what appeared to be a few dozen people. Independent monitoring group OVD-Info said more than 100 people were arrested in anti-mobilization demonstrations in total.
It is unclear what form the escalation could take, but Concerns have been raised Throughout the conflict over whether Russia would resort to using its nuclear stockpile in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden Address these concerns In a 60 Minutes interview earlier this week, when a reporter asked what he would say to the Russian leader regarding the use of chemical or tactical nuclear weapons.
“No. No. No. You would change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Biden said, adding that the US response to such actions would be “consequent.”
Putin endorsed a new deterrent strategy In June 2020, the use of nuclear weapons was authorized in response to a non-nuclear attack on Russia that threatened its existence.
On Tuesday, the Russian lower house, the State Duma, amend the law In military service, the punishment is tightened for violating military service duties – such as desertion and evasion – according to state news agency TASS.
The bill provides for a prison sentence of up to 15 years for military service-related resistance or coercion to violate an official military order, including violence or threat to use it, during a period of mobilization or martial law.