Putin announces partial mobilization in Russia, signs decree
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the West “wants to destroy our country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine has now lasted for almost seven months.
A day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine declared preparations to hold elections on joining Russia, Putin delivered his address to the nation.
The referendums, which have been anticipated since the beginning of the war, will begin on Friday in the areas of Lugansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk, which are partially under Russian control.
Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilization, which is due to start on Wednesday.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience,” Putin stressed.
"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people - this is not a bluff," Putin said in a televised address to the nation.
Referring to NATO expansion toward Russia's borders, Putin said the West was making schemes to destroy Russia, engaging in "nuclear blackmail" by bringing up the potential use of nuclear weapons against Moscow, and accused the United States, the European Union, and Britain of encouraging Ukraine to push military operations into Russia itself.
"In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line," the Russian President said. "This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them," he stressed.
What does that mean?
Putin reiterated prior assertions that Western countries were to blame for initiating a proxy war with Russia in his television address, saying the West "wants to destroy our country" and is attempting to "convert Ukraine's people into military fodder."
He said “mobilization events” would begin Wednesday without providing further details, aside from saying that he had ordered an increase in funding to boost Russia’s weapons production.
Partial mobilization puts Russia on a stronger war footing. However, partial mobilization may require Russian companies and citizens to contribute more to the war effort.
EU threatens Russia with new sanctions
The European Union threatens Russia with new sanctions in the event of referendums in the LPR, DPR, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Tuesday in a statement.
"Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in these 'referendums' and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable, and additional restrictive measures against Russia would be considered," the statement read.
This comes after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US condemned the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson referenda to join Russia as "sham" actions and asserted that the US would not recognize the results.
"These referenda are an affront to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity that underpin the international system," said Sullivan, adding that "if this does transpire, the United States will never recognize Russia's claims to any purportedly annexed parts of Ukraine."
Calls for a referendum
The polls, which are in favor of joining Russia and are scheduled to take place this weekend in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye, would allow the Kremlin to assert, albeit erroneously, that it was "defending" its own territory and population.
The chairman of Social Movement, Vladimir Rogov, called on the head of the Zaporozhye region Yevhen Balytskyi to promptly hold the referendum on joining Russia.
At a congress of Zaporozhye region citizens, Rogov said: “Let’s not just make a decision together on Tuesday, but demand that the decision made earlier be finally implemented."
Civic Chamber of the Kherson region
The Civic Chamber of the Kherson region on Tuesday asked Volodymyr Saldo, the regional head, to promptly hold a referendum on joining Russia, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
Public Chamber of the Lugansk People's Republic
The Public Chamber of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) called for the republic's head, Leonid Pesechnik, to hold a referendum on the republic's immediate accession to Russia, Russian news agency TASS reported on Monday, citing a statement from the body.
"The Public Chamber of the Lugansk People’s Republic comes out with an initiative to hold a referendum on the accession of the Lugansk People’s Republic to Russia immediately," the statement read.
The republic’s accession to Russia will ensure its security and open up new possibilities for the post-war revival, the LPR Public Chamber said.
Civic Chamber of the Donetsk People's Republic
Likewise, the Civic Chamber of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) appealed to DPR head Denis Pushilin with a request to immediately hold a referendum on the republic's accession to Russia, chamber chairman Alexander Kofman said on Monday.
"It's time to erase the non-existent border between our states and hold a referendum on the issue of joining the Donetsk People's Republic to the Russian Federation. We want the border of the Russian Federation to lie between us and Ukraine," Kofman said in the appeal.
"In connection with all of the above, I ask the head of the Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, and the People's Council of the DPR to make an appropriate decision on the immediate holding of a referendum," the official added.
Plans to join Russia
It is worth noting that since the beginning of the war, the Russian military took control of the Azov part of Zaparozhye and Kherson, liberating large cities such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk, as well as cutting off Kiev from the Sea of Azov.
Kherson and Zaparozhye had new administrations formed in them, with Russian TV channels and radio stations broadcasting there and trade and transport ties with Crimea being restored. Both regions have announced plans to become part of Russia.
The Kherson Region in Ukraine is set to hold a referendum to become a full-fledged entity of the Russian Federation, according to the deputy head of the region’s military-civilian administration, Kirill Stremousov in July.
"The Kherson Region will forget about neo-Nazism already in the near future. We are getting ready for the referendum, we will hold it. I hope that in the near future already we will become a full-fledged territorial entity of the Russian Federation," Kirill Stremousov said in a video published on his Telegram channel.