Putin announces ‘partial mobilization’ of Russian citizens in national speech – Rolling Stone

Vladimir Putin has confirmed the partial mobilization of citizen forces in Russia in a rare address to the nation. The forces will be sent to the front line of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, where Russia has suffered heavy casualties.

“In order to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the safety of our people and the peoples in the liberated territories, I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff general to carry out a partial mobilization in the Russian Federation,” Putin said in a speech Wednesday morning, according to CNN.

The Russian president added that the partial mobilization would begin today, a decree having already been signed. “I repeat, we are only talking about partial mobilization,” he said. “That is to say, only citizens who are in the reserve and, above all, those who have served in the armed forces, who have certain military specialties and relevant experience, will be subject to conscription.”

During his speech, Putin also took aim at the West, which he accused of interfering in Russia’s territorial integrity. He claimed the West started a war against Russia in Ukraine in 2014.

“The goal of the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country,” he said. “They are already saying directly that they were able to split the Soviet Union in 1991 and now the time has come for Russia to split into a multitude of regions and areas that are fatally hostile to each other.”

The speech made clear reference to nuclear weapons, with Putin threatening opposing nations.

“Nuclear blackmail was also used. We are talking not only about the bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – encouraged by the West – which threatens to cause a nuclear catastrophe, but also about the statements of senior representatives of NATO countries about the possibility and permission to use weapons of mass destruction against Russia: nuclear weapons,” he said. “I would like to remind those who make such statements about Russia that our country also has various means of destruction, and in some cases they are more modern than those of NATO countries. When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will of course use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.

Putin continued: “It’s not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and our freedom will be ensured, I emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.

After the speech, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed that about 300,000 people with military experience will be called up for service.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden answered a reporter’s question about what he would tell Putin about the possible use of chemical or tactical nuclear weapons. “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,” Biden replied. “You’re going to change the face of war like never before since World War II.”

Putin’s speech followed yesterday’s announcement that officials from the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, would hold referendums on joining the Russian Federation. During the current war, Russia has lost tens of thousands of troops and is now struggling to recruit new soldiers as public support for the invasion dwindles.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter last night that “any Russian ‘referendum’ in Ukraine would be illegitimate and an affront to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity which are the foundation of the UN”.

He added, “If Russia holds these bogus ‘referendums’, the United States and the international community will never recognize Russia’s claims to the allegedly annexed parts of Ukraine. We continue to stand with the Ukrainian people.

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