Putin announces “partial mobilization” of the population in Russia

-/Kremlin/dpa

Says targets in Ukraine “remain unchanged”, accuses West of pressuring Kiev to attack Russian territory

Warns of using “all means” in case of Russian “threat to territorial integrity” and stresses that “it is not a bluff”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday a “partial mobilization” of the population in the midst of the war in Ukraine, where Russian forces have suffered several setbacks in recent weeks following a series of counter-offensives by Ukrainian troops.

The president explained that the activities related to this mobilization will start this very Wednesday and stressed that only reservists, mainly those with experience, will be called up, Russian news agency TASS reported. Before being sent to their units, they will receive additional training.

Putin has addressed his speech “to all citizens of the country,” “to the people of the great homeland, to all those united by the great historical Russia” and to “residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Kherson and Zaporiyia regions and other areas liberated from the neo-Nazi regime (referring to the Ukrainian government).”

“We will talk about the necessary and urgent measures to protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia, about supporting the desire and will of our compatriots to determine their future and about the aggressive policy on the part of the Western elites, who are fighting with all their might to maintain their domination,” he explained.

Putin has argued that the Russian authorities “have no right to let people living in Ukraine near the border be torn apart by enforcers” and has pledged support for the referendums announced by the pro-Russian authorities of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporiyia regions.

“The parliaments of the people’s republics in the Donbas, as well as the military and civil administrations in Kherson and Zaporiyia have decided to hold referendums on the future of these territories and have come to us with a request for support. We will do our best to provide safe conditions for referendums to be held and the population to express its will,” he said.

“We will support the decision on their future, which will be taken by the majority of residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics – whose independence it recognized days before launching the military offensive against Russia on February 24 – and the Zaporiyia and Kherson regions,” he outlined.

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“NUCLEAR BLACKMAIL”

On the other hand, he has warned those countries that carry out “nuclear blackmail” against Moscow that “the wind could blow in their direction”, while denouncing that “the goal of the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy” Russia.

“We are talking not only about the artillery attacks on the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant, which are incited by the West and threaten a nuclear catastrophe, but also about the statements of some high-ranking officials of the leading NATO countries about the possibility and how acceptable it would be to use weapons of mass destruction against Russia,” he has posited.

“I would like to remind those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia that our country also has various means of destruction and that some components are more modern than those available to NATO countries,” he has warned. “In the face of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country, to protect Russia and our people, we will use all means at our disposal. This is not a bluff. I repeat. All means at our disposal,” he stressed.

In this regard, he has maintained that Western countries “openly say that in 1991 they were able to divide the Soviet Union and that now the time has come for Russia, which must be divided into many regions with deadly hostility between them.” “They have been plotting these plans for a long time,” he has warned.

“They encouraged international terrorist gangs in the Caucasus, brought NATO’s offensive infrastructure closer to our borders. They turned Russophobia into their weapon, including decades of cultivating hatred of Russia, mainly in Ukraine,” he has said, before arguing that Ukrainians have been turned “into cannon fodder” by “unleashing this war in 2014, using the Armed Forces against the civilian population, organizing a genocide, a blockade and terror against the people who refused to recognize the power that emerged in Ukraine as a result of a coup.”

“After the regime in Kiev publicly rejected a peaceful resolution to the problem in the Donbas and announced that it wanted to get hold of nuclear weapons, it became absolutely clear that, as had happened twice before, a full-scale attack on the Donbas was inevitable, which would inevitably result in an attack on Russian Crimea and Russia,” he has explained.

FIGHT AGAINST “NEO-NAZIS”

Putin has again defended the “preventive military operation,” the term by which he referred to the invasion order, and extolled that “the Lugansk People’s Republic has been almost completely cleansed of neo-Nazis.” “Fighting continues in the Donetsk People’s Republic, where for eight years the Kiev occupation regime created a deeply staggered line of fortifications,” he has detailed.

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“A frontal assault would have resulted in heavy losses, so our units and the military units of the Donbass republics act systematically, competently, using equipment, protect personnel and liberate the Donetsk land step by step, clearing towns and villages from neo-Nazis and give help to people whom the Kiev regime turned into hostages, into human shields,” he has pointed out.

The Russian president has acknowledged that the offensive involves military, “volunteer formations” and “people of different nationalities, professions and ages.” He also stressed that the Russian forces present in Ukraine operate along a line of contact of more than a thousand kilometers and affirmed that they are facing “the entire Western military machine”, as reported by the Russian news agency Interfax.

“Washington, London and Brussels are directly pushing Kiev to move military operations to our territory. They no longer hide that Russia must be defeated by all means on the battlefield, followed by deprivation of all political, economic and cultural sovereignty,” he has denounced. In this line, he accused Western countries of “trying to block and suppress all independent and sovereign centers of development in order to continue to crudely impose their will on other countries and peoples and impose their pseudo-values”.

Putin’s announcement came in a speech earlier in the day, after his remarks, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, were postponed several times for unspecified reasons. State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Kartapolov said Tuesday that speculation about a general mobilization was “absolutely unjustified.”

Earlier Tuesday, Russia’s lower house of parliament had approved a series of amendments to the Criminal Code to toughen prison sentences for acts committed during wartime, including surrender, desertion and looting. The bill, which includes the concepts “mobilization”, “martial law” and “period of war”, previously not mentioned in the Russian Criminal Code, will be reviewed this Wednesday by the Federation Council — the Upper House — for approval and sent to the president for ratification.

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