Putin launches partial military appeal, won’t ‘bluff’ over nuclear weapons

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Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, in a move that appeared to recognize that Moscow’s war against Ukraine is not going according to plan after nearly seven months of fighting.

It is Russia’s first mobilization since World War II and comes amid humiliating battlefield losses to Kremlin forces in recent weeks.

The Russian leader, in a seven-minute televised address to the nation broadcast Wednesday morning, also warned the West that he is not bluffing about using every means at his disposal to protect Russian territory, in what is a veiled reference. seemed to be. to Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Putin has previously warned the West not to support Russia against the wall and has reprimanded NATO countries for supplying weapons to help Ukraine.

The total number of reservists to be called up could reach 300,000, officials said.

Even partial mobilization is likely to cause further dismay or doubt among Russians about the war in Ukraine. Shortly after Putin’s speech, Russian media reported a sharp spike in demand for airline tickets abroad, amid an apparent struggle to leave despite exorbitant flight prices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who was asked what had changed since he and others previously said no mobilization was planned, argued that Russia is effectively fighting a combined NATO potential because the alliance members have supplied weapons to Kiev. .

Only those with relevant combat and service experience will be mobilized, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. He added that there are about 25 million people who meet these criteria, but only about 1% of them will be mobilized.

Another clause in the decree prohibits most professional soldiers from canceling their contract and leaving the service until the partial mobilization is no longer in effect.

Putin’s announcement came against the backdrop of the UN General Assembly in New York, where the Moscow invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was the target of widespread international criticism, which continued intense diplomatic pressure on Moscow.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky will address the meeting on Wednesday in a pre-recorded speech. Putin did not travel to New York.

Putin’s move has a strong element of risk – it could backfire, making the war in Ukraine unpopular domestically and damaging his own position, and it exposes Russia’s underlying military flaws.

A Ukraine counter-offensive launched this month has snatched Russia’s military initiative and captured large areas once held by the Russians. The speed of the counter-offensive caused Russian troops to abandon armored vehicles and other weapons as they hastily retreated.

A spokesman for Zelenskyy called the mobilization a “great tragedy” for the Russian people.

In a statement to The UK Time News, Sergii Nikiforov said conscripts sent to the front lines in Ukraine would suffer a similar fate to ill-prepared Russian troops repulsed in an attack on Kiev in the early days of last February’s invasion.

“This is a recognition of the inability of the Russian professional army, which has failed in all its tasks,” Nikiforov said.

The mobilization is unlikely to have any impact on the battlefield for months due to a lack of training facilities and equipment.

US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink tweeted that the mobilization is a sign of “weakness, of Russian failure”.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed that assessment, describing Putin’s move as “an admission that his invasion failed”.

Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said Putin’s announcement smacked of “an act of desperation”. He predicted that the Russians will resist the mobilization through “passive sabotage”.

“People will evade this mobilization in every possible way, bribe their way out of this mobilization, leave the country,” Oreshkin told the UKTN on Wednesday.

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The announcement will not go down well with the general public, Oreshkin said, describing it as “a huge personal blow to Russian citizens, who until recently (participating in the hostilities) sat on their benches, (watching) tv… And now the war has come into their house.”

The head of the Duma’s defense committee, Andrei Kartapolov, said there would be no additional restrictions on reservists leaving Russia based on this mobilization, according to Russian media reports. Kartapolov said he wanted to “calm down” people about the mobilization.

The partial mobilization order came a day after Russia-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes to become an integral part of Russia — a move that could set the stage for Moscow to take the war to escalate after Ukrainian successes.

The referendums, expected to take place since the early months of the war, will begin Friday in the regions of Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhia and Donetsk.

Votes will almost certainly go in the direction of Moscow.

The war, which has killed thousands of people, has pushed up food prices worldwide and massively soared energy costs. It has also raised fears of a possible nuclear disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in now Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine. Investigations are also underway into possible atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

In his speech, which was much shorter than previous speeches about the war in Ukraine, Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements by some senior representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons.” .” mass destruction against Russia.”

He did not identify who had made such comments.

“To those who allow themselves such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country also has different means of destruction, and for individual components and more modern than those of NATO countries and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and To protect our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said.

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He added: “It’s not a bluff.”

Foreign leaders have described the ballots as illegitimate and non-binding. Zelenskyy said they were a “sham” and “noise” to divert public attention.

Putin said he has already signed the partial mobilization decree, which starts on Wednesday. A large-scale mobilization would likely be unpopular in Russia and could further tarnish Putin’s reputation after the recent military setbacks in Ukraine.

“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 have a certain military specialty and relevant experience,” Putin said.

Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, also said 5,937 Russian soldiers were killed in the Ukraine conflict, far fewer than Western estimates that Russia has lost tens of thousands.

The opposition movement Vesna called for nationwide protests on Wednesday, saying: “Thousands of Russian men – our fathers, brothers and husbands – will be thrown into the meat grinder of war. What will they die for? What will mothers and children cry about?”

It was unclear how many people would dare to protest amid Russia’s utter suppression of the opposition and strict laws against the discrediting of soldiers and the military operation.

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Follow the UKTN’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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An earlier version of this story has been corrected to show that the Ukrainian presidential spokesman’s last name is Nikiforov, not Nikoforov.

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