Putin orders mobilization of Russian troops for part of Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of his own military on Wednesday, calling up reservists in a major escalation of the war in Ukraine after a setback on the battlefield put the Kremlin under increasing pressure to act.

In a rare national address, the Russian leader also backed Russia’s plans to annex occupied southern and eastern Ukraine, appearing to threaten nuclear retaliation if Kyiv continues its efforts to reclaim the land.

Just a day after four Russian-controlled regions announced they would vote this week to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, Kyiv and its Western allies have been dismissed as a desperate “hoax” in a plan to prevent success. counterattack. Ukrainian army.

Putin has vowed that Russia will do everything in its power to protect what it considers territory, accusing the West of nuclear blackmail, warning: “This is not bluff.”

Speaking after Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said an initial 300,000 reservists would be called up.

Shoigu said only those with relevant combat and service experience would be transferred. Another section of the decree, effective immediately, prohibits most career soldiers from terminating their contracts and leaving until the partial mobilization ceases to exist.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brinker, responded by saying: “Fake referendums and mobilizations are signs of weakness, or of Russia’s failure.”

“The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to annexing Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine as long as it needs to,” she said.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described Putin’s mobilization statement as “an admission that his invasion had failed”.

“He and his secretary of defense have sent to death tens of thousands of their own citizens, poorly equipped and poorly led,” Wallace said in a statement. “No amount of threats and propaganda can hide that Ukraine is The fact that this war is won, the international community is united, and Russia is becoming a global pariah.”

Since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 2, Putin has resisted calls for general mobilization from nationalist supporters and pro-military bloggers. twenty four.

The Russian leader didn’t take that step on Wednesday — a move that could significantly strengthen his ailing power, but it could take time and could prove unpopular with the public the Kremlin is trying to shield from the war.

Whether a partial mobilization will free him from the same concerns remains to be seen.

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