Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting on the Kremlin military-industrial complex, September 20, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial military mobilization in Russia, putting the country’s population and economy into wartime as Moscow’s invasion of Moscow continues.
In a rare, pre-recorded televised announcement, Putin said the West “wants to destroy our country” and claimed the West had tried to “turn the Ukrainian people into cannon fodder,” in comments translated by Reuters, repeating previous claims in which he blame Western countries for starting a proxy war with Russia.
Putin said “mobilization events” would begin on Wednesday without giving further details, except he ordered funding to be increased to boost Russian arms production after committing (and losing) a large amount of weapons during the conflict. that late February started.
Partial mobilization is a vague concept, but it could mean that Russian companies and civilians should contribute more to the war effort. Russia has not yet declared war on Ukraine, despite invading it in February, calling the invasion a “special military operation.”
Putin confirmed military reservists would be called up for active duty, but insisted there would be no wider conscription of Russian men of combative age.
“I repeat, we are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only civilians currently on the reservation will be conscripted, and especially those who have served in the armed forces will have a certain military specialty and relevant experience. required additional military training based on the experience of the special military operation before leaving for the units,” he said, according to an AP translation.
In what was immediately hailed as an escalating speech, Putin also accused the West of nuclear blackmail against Russia and again warned that the country had “a lot of weapons to answer” to what he said were Western threats – adding that he would not bluffed .
Putin has alluded to Russia’s nuclear weapons at various points during the conflict with Ukraine, but there are doubts about whether Moscow will actually resort to deploying such a weapon, with analysts saying it could be tantamount to launching of a third world war.
China’s Foreign Ministry called on all sides to engage in a dialogue to find a way to address all parties’ security concerns, while British Foreign Secretary Gillian Keegan told Sky News that the Putin’s comments should not be taken lightly.
“Obviously it’s something we have to take very seriously because you know, we’re not in control – I’m not sure he’s in control either, really. This is clearly an escalation,” she said.
Financial markets reacted negatively to Putin’s comments: oil prices rose by more than 2% and the Russian ruble fell about 2.6% against the dollar.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu added more details about the partial mobilization on Wednesday morning and said 300,000 additional personnel would be called up to serve in the military campaign in Ukraine.
In an interview with Russian state television, Shoigu said students and conscripts would not be drafted and the majority of Russia’s reserves would not be drafted, Reuters reported.
Russia under pressure
Putin’s comments come as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, is approaching the winter season with momentum that appears to be on Ukraine’s side after it launched lightning-fast counter-offensive in the northeast and south to be lost. regain territory.
Speculation mounted on Tuesday that Putin could be on the brink of announcing a full or partial mobilization of the Russian economy and society, paving the way for possible conscription of Russian men of combative age, after Moscow-installed officials in the occupied territories of Ukraine had announced plans to act immediately. referendums on accession to Russia.
The votes – due to take place this weekend in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, the results of which are widely expected to be manipulated in favor of joining Russia – would allow the Kremlin to claim, albeit incorrectly, that it defended his own country. territory and civilians, and that requires more manpower.
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia supported the referenda and said the decision to partially mobilize was “completely adequate for the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people.” in the liberated territories.”
Plans to hold such votes were widely condemned by Ukraine and its Western allies, who said they would not recognize the ballots and attempts to annex more Ukraine, as Russia did with Crimea in 2014.
Putin on Wednesday reiterated Moscow’s earlier claims that Russia’s goal is to “liberate” the Donbas, a region of eastern Ukraine that contains two self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics, and said he had ordered the government to give legal status. to volunteers fighting in the Donbas, Reuters reported.
Morale is believed to be low among Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and on Tuesday the Russian State Duma voted to tighten Russia’s criminal code on military service – including raising the penalty for desertion and other “crimes committed in circumstances.” of mobilization, martial law, armed conflict and hostilities.”
The UK’s Ministry of Defense noted on Twitter on Wednesday that the move was likely to reduce refusals to fight, and to ease some of the immediate “pressure” on staff.
Timothy Ash, senior sovereign strategist for emerging markets at BlueBay Asset Management, said on Wednesday that “a partial mobilization in the short term will make little difference on the battlefield. And how is Putin going to arm these 300,000 new troops as he struggles to re-equip forces already being pushed into the meat grinder in Ukraine?” Ash wrote in email comments.
Ash added that he believed that “the partial mobilization plus the announcement of a referendum in occupied territories is more for external consumption, for Ukraine and its western allies – to signal Putin’s long-term commitment to this, but that he wants to negotiate.”