Putin announces ‘partial mobilization,’ accuses West of ‘nuclear blackmail’
(Update 1: Adds quotes, adds detail throughout)
Moscow, Sep 21 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday announced the partial mobilization of the military in a possible escalation of tensions as he accused the West of engaging in a nuclear blackmail over the Ukrainian conflict.
In a televised speech to the nation, Putin said he had signed the decree on the partial mobilization of the military “to protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He said it was needed “to ensure the security of our people and people of the liberated territories.”
“I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the ministry of defense on conducting partial mobilization in the Russian Federation,” Putin said.
He said the mobilization would begin on Wednesday, noting that only reservists would be subject to conscription.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military speciality and relevant experience.”
The decision on partial mobilization could lead to an escalation of the conflict over Ukraine.
Russia has not formally declared war on Ukraine, calling the Feb.24 invasion a “special military operation” now completing seven months.
The Russian territorial gains in Ukraine have come under threat after Ukrainian troops drove the Russian forces of the Kharkiv province this month.
Putin insisted that the decision to launch a “preventive military operation (in Ukraine) was absolutely necessary,” since the Ukrainian attack on Donbas was inevitable.
The Russian president accused the West of using Ukraine as an instrument to attack Russia.
In his address, Putin accused the West of engaging in nuclear blackmail against his country and trying to destroy Russia.
He said he was not bluffing and would use “all the means at our disposal” to protect Russian and its territorial integrity.
He stressed that “they (the Westerners) openly say that in 1991 they dismembered the Soviet Union and that now it is the turn of Russia”.
After Putin’s speech, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the mobilization will see 300,000 reservists drafted, all of whom must have military experience.
He added that the reserves would be used to bolster control along the front lines, which span eastern and southern Ukraine.
“It’s more than 1,000 kilometers long. Naturally, we have to secure what is behind that line, we have to have control over the territory.”
The defense minister also said that nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers had died in the Ukraine conflict, a figure far below the estimates compiled by Ukraine and its international partners.
The decision to mobilize Russians comes after Putin announced he supported referendums in the occupied Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.