Putin’s speech: Russia announces immediate “partial mobilization” of citizens for its offensive in Ukraine



CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the immediate establishment “partial mobilization” citizens of Russia, a decision that raises the stakes for them following a losing streak in Ukraine which provoked recriminations in Moscow.

Putin said in a speech on Wednesday that he would use “all means at our disposal”, even raising the specter of nuclear weapons, if Russia’s “territorial integrity” were threatened.

The mobilization means that citizens who are in the reserve could be called up, and those with military experience would be subject to conscription, Putin said, adding that the necessary decree had already been signed and entered into force on Wednesday.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian television on Wednesday morning that the country would call up 300,000 reservists. “These are not people who have never heard of the military,” Shoigu said. “These are those who have served, have a military registration specialty, have had military experience.”

It comes after a sudden and successful Ukrainian offensive through most busy Kharkov the momentum of the conflict returned to Kyiv this month. The counterattacks galvanized Western supporters of Ukraine and caused anger in russiawho has been repeatedly thwarted in his full-scale assault on his neighboring state that he launched seven months ago.

“Our country also has various means of destruction and in some components more modern than those of NATO countries, and if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in his speech Wednesday indicating a possible new chapter in the months-long conflict.

Addressing the potential for escalation and the 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 expected to face labor shortages and follows changes to Russia’s military service law on Tuesday, which increase penalties for resisting military service or coercion to violate an official military order during a period of mobilization or martial law. .

Putin described the ongoing fighting as part of a larger struggle for Russia’s survival against a West whose aim is “to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”. Several regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia have announced that they hold referendums on formal membership in Russia votes this week that have been widely dismissed as shams intended to bolster Putin’s justifications for further attacks on Ukrainian territory.

“They are already saying directly that they were able to split the Soviet Union in 1991 and now the time has come for Russia to split into a multitude of regions and areas that are fatally hostile to each other,” Putin said. .

But NATO leaders dismissed the announcement as a sign of panic in the Kremlin and reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukraine’s military.

“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community is united and Russia is becoming a global pariah,” the British defense secretary said on Wednesday. , Ben Wallace.

The referendums, which Putin backed in his speech on Wednesday, could pave the way for Russian annexation of the areas, allowing Moscow to frame the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself, thereby providing Moscow a pretext to intensify its military response.

In what appeared to be a coordinated announcement, Russian-appointed leaders in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic all said they planned to hold “votes” from 23 September.

Together, the four regions that have announced their referendum plans represent around 18% of Ukraine’s territory. Russia does not control any of the four in their entirety.

The expected referendums, which go against international law defending Ukraine’s sovereignty, were announced as world leaders traveled to New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where the war and its impacts were already about to loom.

Ukraine has rejected the announcement of the referendums in the occupied regions as a “sham” stemming from “fear of defeat”, while the country’s Western supporters signaled that they would not change their support for Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink wrote on Twitter Wednesday that “the mock referendum and mobilization are signs of Russia’s weakness, failure. The U.S. will never acknowledge the claim of Russia in supposedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.

Putin said on Wednesday that Russia had been asked for the support of the two “people’s republics” and the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia for the referendums and pledged to do “everything to ensure safe conditions for the people to express his will”.

The ads had already received rapid support from Russian politicians. Former Russian President and Deputy Chairman of the Russian National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev publicly endorsed referendums in the self-declared Donbas republics, saying it would be of “enormous significance” for the “systemic protection” of residents.

“Encroachment on Russian territory is a crime that allows the use of all self-defense forces,” Medvedev said on his Telegram channel, in an apparent allusion to the potential for military escalation.

It’s unclear what form an escalation might take, but concerns have been raised throughout the dispute over whether Russia would resort to using its nuclear stockpile in Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden addressed 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.

“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war like it hasn’t since World War II,” Biden said, adding that the US response to such actions would be “consequential.”

Putin approved a new deterrent strategy in June 2020 that allowed the use of nuclear weapons in response to a non-nuclear attack on Russia that threatened its existence.

On Tuesday, the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, changed the law on military service, toughening the penalty for violating military service duties – such as desertion and evading service – according to state news agency TASS.

The bill provides for a prison term of up to 15 years for resisting military service or coercion to violate an official military order, involving violence or the threat of its use, during the period of mobilization or of martial law.