Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine dragged on for nearly seven months and Moscow was losing ground on the battlefield. Putin also warned the West that “it is not a bluff” that Russia will use any means at its disposal to protect its territory.
The total number of reservists drafted in the partial mobilization is 300,000, officials said.
The Russian leader’s televised address to the nation comes a day after the Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming an integral part of Russia. The Kremlin-backed effort to engulf four regions could pave the way for Moscow to escalate the war after Ukrainian successes.
Referendums scheduled to take place since the first months of the war, which began on February 24, will begin on Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions.
Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.
“I would like to remind those who allow themselves such statements about Russia that our country also has various means of destruction, and separate and more modern components than those of the NATO countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened Russia and ours We will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect the people,” Putin said.
He added, “It’s not a bluff.”
Putin said he signed a decree on partial mobilization to begin on Wednesday.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in reserve will be drafted, and most importantly, those who have served in the armed forces have some military specialty and relevant experience,” Putin said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a TV interview on Wednesday that conscripts and students will not be mobilized – only those with relevant combat and service experience.
He said that 5,937 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine so far. Western estimates of Russian military losses are in the tens of thousands.
Shoigu’s update on Russian casualties marks the third time the Russian military has released public figures on the death toll. The latest update came in late March, when the Defense Ministry claimed 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine.
Putin said the partial mobilization decision was “fully proportionate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and the people of the liberated areas.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed Russian plans to hold referendums in occupied territories in eastern and southern Ukraine as “noise” and thanked Ukraine’s allies for condemning the polls that begin on Friday.
Four Russian-controlled regions on Tuesday announced plans to start voting this week to become integral parts of Russia, which could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war after Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council chaired by Putin, said referendums annexing regions to Russia itself would make newly drawn borders “irreversible” and allow Moscow to use “any means” to secure them To defend.
In his late-night address, Zelenskyy said there were many questions about the announcements, but stressed that they would not change Ukraine’s commitment to retake territory occupied by Russian forces.
“The situation on the front clearly shows that the initiative belongs to Ukraine,” he said. “Our positions don’t change because of the noise or any announcements anywhere. And we enjoy the full support of our partners.”
The forthcoming votes in the Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions will almost certainly go to Moscow. But they were quickly dismissed as illegitimate by Western leaders, who have been backing Kyiv with military and other support that has helped its forces gain momentum on the battlefields to the east and south.
“I thank all friends and partners of Ukraine for today’s principled condemnation of Russia’s attempts to hold new sham referendums,” said Zelenskyy.
In another signal that Russia is embarking on a protracted and potentially intensified conflict, the Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament on Tuesday voted to tighten laws against desertion, surrender and looting by Russian troops. Lawmakers also voted to introduce possible 10-year prison sentences for soldiers who refuse to fight.
If the law were approved by the House of Lords, as expected, and then signed by Putin, the law would strengthen commanders’ hands against the reported declining morale among soldiers.
In the Russian-held city of Enerhodar, shelling continued around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom said Russian shelling again damaged infrastructure at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, briefly forcing workers to start two diesel generators to provide backup power for cooling pumps for one of the reactors.
Such pumps are essential to avoid a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, even though all six of the plant’s reactors have been shut down. Energoatom said the generators were later shut down when main power was restored.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been a concern for months amid fears shelling could lead to a radiation leak. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/21/putin-sets-partial-mobilization-in-russia-threatens-enemies-as-ukraine-war-reaches-nearly-7-months/ Putin initiates partial mobilization in Russia and threatens enemies as war in Ukraine drags on for nearly 7 months