Putin mobilizes his reservists and says he is ready to use all means in Ukraine | War in Ukraine
Vladimir Putin accused Western countries of wanting to “destroy” Russia and “blackmail” Russia, and said he was ready to use nuclear weapons.
Russian soldiers during the “Vostok-2022” exercise, September 4, 2022.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine, warning the West that Moscow would use “all means” to defend itself.
Faced with lightning counter-offensives by kyiv forces that pushed back the Russian army, Mr. Putin chose to bet on an escalation of the conflict, with a measure that paves the way for the influx of soldiers Russians in Ukraine.
After Tuesday's announcement that annexation referendums would be held in four regions of eastern and southern Ukraine starting Friday, the Russian President's move marks a turning point in the conflict.
I consider it necessary to support the [Ministry of Defence's] proposal for the partial mobilization of citizens in reserve, those who have already served [ …] and who have relevant experience, Putin said gravely in a televised address recorded and broadcast Wednesday morning.
We are only talking about partial mobilization, insisted the Russian president, while rumors of a general mobilization caused concern among many Russians.
Russian Defense Minister , Sergei Shoigu, said that 300,000 reservists were affected by this mobilization order, barely 1.1% of the resources that can be mobilized.
This order is effective from Wednesday, said the Russian president. The corresponding decree was published soon after on the Kremlin website.
The U.S. ambassador to Kyiv said the move was a sign of Russia's weakness, which faces a shortage of manpower to carry out its offensive in Ukraine, which enters its eighth month this week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has virulently attacked the West.
Mr. Putin once again attacked the West with virulence, accusing it of having exceeded all limits in its aggressive policy and of wanting to weaken, divide and, in the end account, destroy our country.
Nuclear blackmail is also used […] I would like to remind those who make such statements that our country also has various means of destruction, some of which are more modern than those of NATO countries , said the Russian president.
“We will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. I mean all the means […] It's not bluffing. ”
— Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation
Mr. Shoigu claimed that Russia was not fighting Ukraine so much as the West.
The announcement of referendums in areas under Russian control and the announcement of partial mobilization mark a turning point in the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which began on February 24.
Especially since Russian military doctrine provides for the possibility of resorting to nuclear strikes if territories considered Russian by Moscow are attacked.
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Many observers believe that Moscow has underestimated the resistance capacities of Ukrainians, motivated and armed by Westerners.
Mr Putin's speech comes after setbacks in the Russian army during Ukrainian counter-offensives in the Kherson and Kharkiv regions, where Moscow's forces were forced to give up a lot of ground.
Mr Shoigu said on Wednesday that the Russian army had lost 5,937 soldiers since the start of the offensive, an official toll well above the previous one, but far below Ukrainian and Western estimates of dozens. thousands of casualties.
On the ground, fighting and shelling continued on Wednesday, with Ukrainian authorities accusing Russia of having again bombed the site of the Zaporizhia power plant , the largest in Europe.
On the eve of Mr Putin's announcements, authorities in separatist or occupied areas in Ukraine announced Russian annexation “referendums” for September 23-27.
These votes will take place in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which form the Donbass, as well as in the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhia, in the south.
These votes have were immediately criticized by Ukraine, its president Volodymyr Zelensky downplaying the importance of these pseudo-referendums.
Westerners have also criticized them, with Berlin calling them fictitious and Washington sham elections.
These votes, modeled on the one that formalized the annexation of the peninsula of Crimea by Russia in 2014, denounced by kyiv and the West, have been under preparation for several months.
The timetable seems to have accelerated with the counter – Ukrainian offensive. Russian officials previously mentioned the date of November 4, the day of Russian national unity.
The partial mobilization of Russian reservists demonstrates President Vladimir Putin's desire to continue the escalation of the war against Ukraine and is a new sign of his disarray, said Wednesday the spokesperson for the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.
The announcement of the partial mobilization of reservists and the confirmation of the referendums [in occupied regions of Ukraine] are a clear signal addressed to the international community during the week of the United Nations General Assembly of its will to continue its destructive war which has negative consequences around the world, spokesman Peter Stano said.
This action will have consequences on our part. EU member states have already held a coordination meeting on the sidelines of the general assembly in New York, he said. Peter Stano declined to elaborate, however, saying the details of the talks were confidential.
The EU has already adopted six sets of economic sanctions against Russia, but tensions have arisen between member states, and Hungary has said it opposes further EU measures. Unanimity is required for EU sanctions.
“The occupied territories are part of Ukraine which has every right to restore its authority there and the EU is ready to continue its support in the military field. »
— Peter Stano, spokesperson for the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell
For its part, China called on Wednesday for a ceasefire through dialogue in the conflict in Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech announcing a partial military mobilization.
We call on the parties concerned to establish a ceasefire through dialogue and consultation, and to find a solution that addresses the legitimate security concerns of all parties as soon as possible, a ministry spokesperson said. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin at a press conference.
The announcement of a partial mobilization to reinforce troops in Ukraine led to a rush on airline websites on Wednesday in an attempt to leave Russia as soon as possible.
According to the Google Trends statistical tool, which measures how often a word was typed on Google, searches in Russia for the terms tickets and plane have more than doubled since 6 a.m. (UTC) on Wednesday , or at the beginning of Vladimir Putin's recorded televised address.
The request to leave Russia was carried out 100 times more in the morning than in time normal.
The region of Belgorod, bordering northeastern Ukraine and hit several times since the end of February by Ukrainian strikes, is also at the top of the ranking indicating the place where this research has been made.
Tickets for direct flights to the destinations closest to Russia – Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan or even Kazakhstan – are all sold out for the day on Wednesday, according to the Aviasales site, very popular in Russia to buy tickets.
Heading to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, which since Western sanctions and the closure of European airspace has become the ;one of the main exit routes from the country by plane, all flights are full until Saturday.
At AirSerbia, to reach Belgrade, the next flight with seats available was posted for Monday, September 26.
Domestic flights to cities near the country's borders have also exploded, as evidenced by these tickets offered from Moscow to Vladikavkaz (south) for over $750, compared to just $70 normally.
At the start of the offensive e Russian in Ukraine, a first exodus of Russians opposed to the assault or fearing mobilization had taken place. No official estimate has been made public, but it involved at least tens of thousands of people.