Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine drags on for nearly seven months and Moscow is losing ground on the battlefield. Putin also warned the West that “it is not a bluff” that Russia will use any means at its disposal to protect its territory.
The total number of reservists drafted in the partial mobilization is 300,000, officials said.
Putin said the decision to partially mobilize was “fully proportionate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and the people in the liberated areas.” “.
The development came just hours before US President Joe Biden’s address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly.
Biden condemned the “brutal, unnecessary war chosen by one man” as violating the United Nations charter, as well as the “sham referenda” Russia planned later in the week to exercise authority over areas it controls in the United Nations to strengthen Ukraine.
“If nations are allowed to pursue their imperialist ambitions without consequences, we are jeopardizing everything this institution stands for,” Biden said.
The US — which has provided nearly $16 billion in aid to Ukraine since Biden took office — would be “clear, firm and unwavering in our resolve,” Biden said, pledged to uphold democracy both in Ukraine and around the world defend.
WATCH l Many troops will “take a long time” to mobilize and train: Military Expert:
In a statement to The Associated Press, a spokesman for Ukraine’s president said conscripts sent to the front lines in Ukraine would suffer a fate similar to that of ill-prepared Russian forces who attacked Kyiv in the first days of the invasion were repelled.
“This is a recognition of the incompetence of the Russian professional army, which has failed in all its tasks,” Sergii Nikoforov said. “As we can see, the Russian authorities want to compensate for this with violence and repression against their own people. The sooner this stops, the fewer Russian sons will die at the front.”
Nuclear threat “no bluff”
In his speech, Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and referred to “statements by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.
“I would like to remind those who allow themselves such statements about Russia that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries, and if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, um To protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said.
He added, “It’s not a bluff.”
Putin’s new nuclear threats against Europe demonstrated a “reckless disregard” for Russia’s responsibility as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Biden told the United Nations in New York.
“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Biden said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a TV interview on Wednesday that conscripts and students will not be mobilized — only those with relevant combat and service experience.
Shoigu said 5,397 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine so far, the Kremlin’s first update on casualties since March. Western estimates of Russian military losses are in the tens of thousands.
The Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament on Tuesday voted to tighten laws against desertion, surrender and looting by Russian troops. Lawmakers also voted to introduce possible 10-year prison sentences for soldiers who refuse to fight. The measures are expected to be approved by the upper house and then signed by Putin.
Zelenskyj rejects Russian “noise”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to deliver an address from Ukraine to the UN General Assembly later on Wednesday.
In his late-night address on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said there were many questions about Putin’s announcements, but stressed that they would not change Ukraine’s commitment to retake territory occupied by Russian forces.
“The situation on the front clearly shows that the initiative belongs to Ukraine,” he said. “Our positions don’t change because of the noise or any announcements anywhere. And we enjoy the full support of our partners.”
Ukraine liberated a number of cities over the past month, made possible in large part by precision weapons and missile systems provided by the US and its allies – including the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and the High-Speed Anti-radiation missile or HARM.
On the battlefield, shelling continued around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in the Russian-held city of Enerhodar. Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom said Russian shelling again damaged infrastructure at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, briefly forcing workers to start two diesel generators to provide backup power for cooling pumps for one of the reactors.
Such pumps are essential to avoid a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, even though all six of the plant’s reactors have been shut down. Energoatom said the generators were later shut down when main power was restored.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been the focus of concern for months amid fears shelling could lead to a radiation leak. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling
Referenda, scheduled to take place since the first months of the war that began February 24, will begin on Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions. These voices will almost certainly go Moscow’s way, but have been dismissed as illegitimate by Western leaders, who are backing Kyiv with military and other support that has helped its forces gain momentum on the battlefields east and south.