“It’s not a bluff”: “Putin orders a partial mobilization of the armed forces, threatens nuclear weapons

Ulf Mauder, Andreas Stein and André Ballin


Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree ordering the partial mobilization of Russia’s armed forces, which is expected to begin later Wednesday.

He also warned other states not to attack Russian territory. “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use absolutely all available means to protect Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff. »

At the same time, Putin warned against “blackmailing” Russia with nuclear weapons. “Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the compass needle can turn in their direction,” he said.

“It is in our historical tradition, in the destiny of our people to stop those who seek world domination, who threaten our homeland, our homeland with dismemberment and oppression,” Putin said. Russia’s nuclear weapons were brought to combat readiness following the war in Ukraine.

With the partial mobilization of Russian forces, Putin also wants to resolve personnel issues at the front, he said. At the same time, Putin announced that he would support “referendums” in the occupied territories of Ukraine upon joining Russia.

According to Putin, the partial mobilization means that reservists will be drafted. They would enjoy the same status and pay as current contract soldiers and would also receive additional military training before being deployed to the front lines, he said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has estimated the number of reservists to be mobilized at 300,000. In total, there are 25 million reservists in Russia.

Shoigu estimated the losses suffered by the Russian army during its invasion of Ukraine at 5,937 men. It is the first time in months that Russia officially releases figures. Independent observers, however, estimate Russia’s losses to be significantly higher.

Russia put the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed at more than 60,000. In addition, nearly 50,000 were injured, bringing the total “losses” to more than 100,000, Shoigu said.

This means that Ukraine has lost more than half of its former armed forces, which initially consisted of more than 200,000 people, Shoigu claimed. This could not be independently verified. End of August,

Ukraine itself put the death toll in its own ranks at nearly 9,000 troops.

The Russian mobilization came a day after Moscow-backed separatists announced their intention to hold referendums in the occupied regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya later this week to become part of Russia. This decision triggered fierce condemnation from the international community.

Putin announced the annexation referendums in the occupied territories in a televised address on Wednesday. “We support the decision taken by the majority of citizens of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions,” Putin said.

The simultaneous referendums are due to start on Friday and end on Tuesday. They are seen as a reaction to the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east of the country, where Ukrainian forces have continued a string of recent successes, retaking territory occupied by Russia since the start of its invasion of Ukraine. end of February.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula from Crimea in the same way in 2014. The vote was not recognized internationally. Recognition is also not expected this time around.

The West reacted to the annexation of Crimea with sanctions. However, Russia has always stressed that it will not be sidetracked from its goals in Ukraine by EU and US punitive measures.

Russian political scientist Tatyana Stanovaya said Putin decided to hold the referendums after his initial plans to quickly seize Ukrainian territories failed.

After gaining control of the regions, she said, he would have the ability to defend the territories under the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. In doing so, he had significantly raised his stakes in the war.

Russia justified its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 by, among other things, the “liberation” of the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Initially, the Russian army was able to conquer large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

More recently, however, the Kremlin suffered a severe defeat, with Russian troops almost completely withdrawing from the Kharkiv region after Ukrainian attacks. Subsequently, state propaganda warned of a possible devastating defeat in the war.

On the other hand, Russian military leaders repeatedly stress that everything is going according to plan and that all objectives will be achieved.

The kyiv leadership warned its compatriots against voting.

“Any participation in the ‘referendums’ will be considered a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” presidential office adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

Previously, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement declaring the organization of “fake referendums” a criminal offence.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk also called on people to ignore the vote – “and thereby help the army and themselves”.

Anyone applying for a Russian passport – a major tool used by Russia to consolidate its control over people in territories it has occupied – could face up to 15 years in prison, she told Ukrainian TV .

World leaders have slammed the referendum plans, saying no outcome will ever be recognized as legitimate and calling the move another unacceptable provocation.

©2022 dpa GmbH. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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