MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” of Russia’s Armed Forces on Wednesday morning. He signed a decree which will send Russians who have completed military training to join in the fight against Ukraine, but not an all-out draft.
Putin said in a televised address that only those citizens who are in the reserve, and first of all those who served in the army and who have the necessary experience, will be drafted into military service.
This announcement was made just days after Russian-controlled regions in Ukraine announced plans to hold referendums on joining Russia. This choreographed sequence of events reminded me of the Russian leader’s February announcement of sending tens of thousand troops into Ukraine.
Putin’s Wednesday announcement came at a time when his country is struggling to replenish its fighting forces in Ukraine, and has suffered setbacks on battlefields amid a growing Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defense Minister, stated in a separate interview that Russia would immediately mobilize 300,000 reservists for Ukraine to “hold the front line.”
Putin stated that the larger force was needed because Ukraine continues to receive heavy weaponry form a “collective West” bent on “weakening and isolating Russia.”
As they held a series “referendums” to discuss joining the Russian Federation, the Russian leader insisted that Russia had a moral duty to protect civilians in Ukraine’s partially Russian-occupied areas.
Putin also claimed that the West provided Ukraine with long-range weapons systems capable of striking deep into Russian territory. He again accused Ukraine and its ally of threatening Russia with nuclear threats. Putin said Russia and its citizens would use all available means to defend themselves, noting that Russia has its own nuclear arsenal. Putin stated, “This is not a bluff.”
“Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons need to know that the rose winds can blow in their favor.”
Defense minister also gave new figures about Russian casualties, stating that 5,937 Russian soldiers died in combat in Ukraine. Western estimates run much higher.