The Russian President, Vladimir Putin has made an open order for a partial military mobilisation for some of his reserve forces while also vowing on Wednesday to use “all available means” including Nuclear powers to protect Russian territory, after some of the Moscow-held regions of Ukraine had suddenly announced annexation referendums.
The votes which had already been denounced by Kyiv and the West as a “sham”, will also dramatically up the stakes in the seven-month-old conflict in Ukraine by giving Moscow the ability to formally accuse the Ukrainian forces of attacking Russian territory.
Four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine — Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south — had also revealed on Tuesday that they would be holding the votes over five days beginning Friday.
It has also been reported that in a pre-recorded address to the nation early on Wednesday, Putin had also accused the West of trying to “destroy” his country through its backing of Kyiv, and said Russia needed to support those in Ukraine who wanted to “determine their own future” which triggered the Russian leader announced a partial military mobilisation, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu telling state television that some 300,000 reservists would be called up.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.
Germany has also branded the partial call-up as a “wrong step” while jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said it would result in a “massive tragedy, in a massive amount of deaths”.
Putin had also reiterated that through its support for Ukraine the West was trying to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”, while Shoigu said Moscow was “fighting not so much Ukraine as the collective West” in Ukraine.
The sudden flurry of moves by Moscow this week came with Russian forces in Ukraine facing their biggest challenge since the start of the conflict which had come from a sweeping Ukrainian counter-offensive in recent weeks has seen Kyiv’s forces retake hundreds of towns and villages that had been controlled by Russia for months.