Russian President Vladimir Putin has introduced a partial army mobilization in Russia as his invasion of Ukraine nears seven months and Kyiv regains territory in its counteroffensive.
Putin additionally warned the West that “it is not a bluff” that Russia would use all of the means at its disposal to guard its territory.
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Putin’s tackle, broadcast to the nation on September 21, comes a day after Russian-occupied areas in japanese and southern Ukraine introduced plans to carry votes on being included into Russia, triggering outrage and condemnations not solely in Kyiv however from a lot of the worldwide neighborhood.
Analysts say the Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up 4 areas might set the stage for Moscow to escalate the conflict following Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.
The referendums, which have been anticipated to happen for the reason that first months of the conflict, will begin on September 23 within the Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, and Donetsk areas.
In his tackle, Putin accused the West of partaking in “nuclear blackmail” and claimed, with out offering proof, that “high-ranking representatives of the main NATO states” had allegedly made statements “about the potential of utilizing nuclear weapons of mass destruction towards Russia.”
“To those that enable themselves such statements concerning Russia, I wish to remind you that our nation additionally has varied technique of destruction, and for separate parts and extra fashionable than these of NATO nations. When the territorial integrity of our nation is threatened, to guard Russia and our folks, we will definitely use all of the means at our disposal,” Putin mentioned, including, “It isn’t a bluff.”
Putin mentioned the partial mobilization was resulting from begin instantly on September 21.
“We’re speaking about partial mobilization, that’s solely residents who’re presently within the reserve might be topic to conscription, and above all those that served within the armed forces have a sure army specialty and related expertise,” Putin mentioned.
Putin mentioned his intention was to “liberate” east Ukraine’s Donbas area, claiming with out offering any proof that most individuals within the area didn’t wish to return to what he known as the “yoke” of Ukraine.
Russian Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu mentioned in a televised interview on September 21 that solely these with related fight and repair expertise can be mobilized and never conscripts or college students.
He mentioned 5,937 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine thus far, a fraction of Western and Ukrainian estimates of Russian army losses.
Shoigu’s casualty replace on Russian losses is the third such public launch. The final replace got here in late March, when the Protection Ministry claimed 1,351 Russian troopers had been killed in Ukraine.
Putin’s tackle was broadcast a day after plans had been introduced in 4 Ukrainian areas occupied by Russian forces to carry votes on being included into Russia, a transfer that was broadly condemned by the worldwide neighborhood.
U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned Washington rejected any such referendums “unequivocally,” whereas German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron each used the phrase “sham” to explain the deliberate motion.
“This has no authorized standing,” Macron mentioned on September 20 earlier than addressing the UN Common Meeting in New York. “The very concept of organizing referendums in territories which have skilled conflict…is the signal of cynicism.”
“It is vitally, very clear that these sham referendums can’t be accepted and are usually not coated by worldwide legislation,” Scholz advised reporters as he attended the UN Common Meeting.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau additionally denounced Russia’s deliberate referendums, saying Canada would by no means acknowledge them.
“It is a blatant violation of worldwide legislation. It’s a additional escalation of conflict. And it’s unacceptable,” he mentioned on Twitter.
The European Union strongly condemned the deliberate referendums and threatened further sanctions.
“Russia, its political management, and all these concerned in these ‘referenda’ and different violations of worldwide legislation in Ukraine might be held accountable, and extra restrictive measures towards Russia can be thought of,” EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell mentioned in a press release.
He mentioned the votes can’t be thought of “because the free expression of the desire of the folks” in these areas.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed the Western condemnation of the referendums.
“I thank all the buddies and companions of Ukraine for his or her large and agency condemnation of Russia’s intentions to arrange but extra pseudo-referendums,” he mentioned in his nightly video tackle.
“The state of affairs on the entrance line clearly signifies that the initiative belongs to Ukraine,” he mentioned. “Our positions don’t change due to the noise or any bulletins someplace. And we benefit from the full help of our companions on this.”
Ukrainian International Minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned earlier that the referendums will “not change something,” including on Twitter that “Russia has been and stays an aggressor illegally occupying elements of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has “each proper to liberate its territories and can maintain liberating them no matter Russia has to say.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who’s presently the deputy chief of Russia’s Safety Council, wrote on Telegram on September 20 that the referendums on Ukraine’s occupied territories are “necessary” to “reinstate the historic justice.”
“After [the referendums] are carried out and the brand new territories turn out to be a part of Russia, the geopolitical transformation on the planet will tackle an irreversible character,” Medvedev wrote, including that makes an attempt to encroach Russia’s territory is a criminal offense and Russia might use “all technique of self-defense” after the Ukrainian territories turn out to be a part of Russia.
With reporting by dpa, AFP, Reuters, and AP