Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced the “partial mobilization” of some 300,000 troops. Photo by Mikhael Kilmentyev/EPA-EFE
Sept. 21 (BP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a “partial mobilization” of citizens to bolster military ranks amid its war in Ukraine, stating the conscription of hundreds of thousands of troops is necessary “to protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity” from the West.
The president said in the rare video address to the public that he has signed the decree conscripting reservists and those with military experience into the military. The mobilization beings Wednesday and those conscripted will undergo additional military training before being deployed.
He announced the conscription drive while accusing the West of having crossed “all the lines” with its “aggressive anti-Russian policy.”
“We constantly hear threats against our country, our people,” he said. “Some irresponsible politicians in the West not only talk about plans to organize the supply of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine — systems that allow strikes on Crimea and other regions of Russia,” he said.
The announcement comes as Ukraine has recently handed Russia a series of embarrassing military defeats that has seen Kyiv regain thousands of square miles of territory once held by Kremlin forces.
In his address, Putin directly accused the United States, Britain, the European Union and Ukraine of attempting to push hostilities into Russia.
“Without concealing, they say that Russia should be defeated by all means on the battlefield with the subsequent deprivation of political, economic, cultural, in general sovereignty, with the complete looting of our country,” he said.
He also accused them of nuclear blackmail, a charge that has been often thrown at Moscow over its stationing of troops at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe.
And he threatened western nations with his country’s nuclear arsenal.
“To those who allow themselves such statements against Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and some components are more modern than those of the NATO countries,” he said. “And at the threat to the territorial integrity of our country, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that 300,000 people will be called up to service under the “partial mobilization” plan, according to Russian-state news agency TASS.
Putin invaded Ukraine Feb. 24 in what he described as a “special military operation” to de-Nazify and demilitarize Ukraine. Democratic countries called it an illegal incursion that threatened the sovereignty of Kyiv and responded with sanctions and other punitive measures while arming the Ukrainian military in its fight.
The announcement also comes as four regions in south and east Ukraine are to hold referenda on whether to join their neighboring country.
The regions of Luhansk, Kherson, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia are home to substantial pro-Russia separatist populations and are under the control of Russia proxy officials. The referenda are similar to the plan Russia executed when it annexed Crimea in 2014.
The United States has been warning for months that the Kremlin would hold “sham” referenda that would include disinformation campaigns, voter falsification and fraud in order for Russia to complete its illegal land grab.
State Department Principal Deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in late August that the plan comes from Russia’s playbook for attacking Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“These sham referenda will attempt to give a veneer of legitimacy to a blatant land grab that would violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law, including the U.N. Charter, and contravene principles of the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe],” he said.