After almost seven months of conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order to partially mobilize the country’s reserves, which looked to be an acknowledgement that Moscow’s war against Ukraine isn’t proceeding as planned.
It’s the country’s first mobilization since World War II and comes as the Kremlin’s soldiers have recently suffered defeats on the battlefield.
The Russian president also cautioned the West that he isn’t kidding about using all available measures to safeguard Russia’s territory in a seven-minute televised speech to the country that broadcast on Wednesday morning, in what looked to be a covert allusion to Russia’s nuclear capacity. Putin has already warned the West against supporting Russia when it is up against the wall and criticized NATO nations for arming Ukraine.
According to authorities, the total number of reservists who will be called up might reach 300,000. Even a partial mobilization is likely to enhance Russians’ shock and maybe generate skepticism about the conflict in Ukraine. Shortly after Putin’s speech, Russian media reported a huge increase in demand for international flights, despite the fact that there have been far fewer available since the start of the conflict and that they are considerably more expensive now.
Only individuals with significant combat and service experience will be called up, according to Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister. Only around 1% of the approximately 25 million people who meet this need will be mobilized, he continued.
The majority of professional soldiers are prohibited from ending their contracts and quitting the military under another provision of the regulation until the partial mobilization has ended.
Putin’s declaration coincided with the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where Moscow has been under enormous diplomatic pressure since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 as a result of widespread worldwide condemnation.
Volodymyr Zelenskky, the president of Ukraine, is scheduled to deliver a prepared speech to the group on Wednesday. Putin chose not to visit New York. Putin’s strategy is fraught with danger since it exposes Russia’s fundamental military weaknesses and has the potential to backfire by making the conflict in Ukraine unpopular at home and harming Putin’s personal standing.
Due to a paucity of equipment and training facilities, the mobilization is unlikely to have any immediate effects on the battlefield for several months.
According to Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the mobilization is a show of “Russian failure and weakness.” Putin’s action, according to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, is “an acknowledgement that his invasion is failing.”
Wallace said in a statement that “he and his defense minister have committed tens of thousands of their own compatriots to their deaths, ill-equipped and terribly led.” Threats and propaganda won’t be able to cover up the truth that Russia is turning into a pariah on the international stage and that Ukraine is winning this fight.
Putin’s declaration, according to Russian political expert Dmitry Oreshkin, reeked of “an act of desperation.” He anticipated that “passive sabotage” will be used by Russians to thwart the mobilization.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Oreshkin stated that “people will escape this mobilization in every imaginable manner, bribe their way out of this mobilization, and flee the country.”
Oreshkin predicted that the statement would not be well received by the general public, calling it “a big personal blow to Russian civilians, who until recently (took part in the conflicts) with joy, lying on their sofas, (watching) TV. And suddenly their house is a battlefield.
The partial mobilization order was issued a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine declared their intention to conduct referendums on joining Russia, a move that might pave the way for Moscow to intensify the conflict in the wake of Ukrainian victories.
The referendums, which have been planned since the beginning of the conflict, will begin on Friday in the Ukrainian areas of Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk, which are mostly under Russian control.
The results will almost certainly favor Moscow. The battle, which has claimed thousands of lives, has increased food prices globally and raised energy prices. In the now-Russia-occupied southeast of Ukraine, it has also raised concerns about a potential nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear reactor. Investigations into potential crimes perpetrated by Russian soldiers in Ukraine are also in progress.
Putin accused the West of using “nuclear blackmail” in his speech, which was much shorter than previous ones about the conflict in Ukraine. He also mentioned “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.” He made no mention of the source of these remarks.
When the territorial integrity of our nation is threatened, we will undoubtedly use all available means to protect Russia and our people, Putin said. “To those who allow themselves to make such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries. It’s not a bluff, he continued.
The votes were deemed invalid and non-binding by foreign leaders. They were “noise,” according to Zelenskyy, and a “sham” to divert attention.
Putin said he had already approved the decree for the Wednesday-starting partial mobilization. After the recent military losses in Ukraine, a full-scale mobilization would probably not be welcomed in Russia and might further damage Putin’s reputation.
According to Putin, “We are talking about partial mobilization, which means that only individuals who are now enrolled in the reserve would be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed services have a specified military specialization and necessary expertise.”
The Russian military minister, Shoigu, said that 5,937 Russian servicemen had perished in the Ukraine conflict, significantly fewer than the tens of thousands of personnel that Western estimates place Russia as having killed.
Thousands of Russian men, including our dads, brothers, and spouses, “will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war,” the Vesna opposition organization said in a call for statewide rallies on Wednesday. What are they going to die for? What will cause moms and kids to cry?
In light of Russia’s general repression of opposition and strict regulations prohibiting criticizing soldiers and the military operation, it was unknown how many people would dare to demonstrate.
The lower house of parliament, which is under the control of the Kremlin, voted on Tuesday to toughen the rules on Russian troops deserting, surrendering, and looting, sending another message that the country is preparing for a protracted and perhaps escalated battle. Additionally, lawmakers approved the introduction of potential 10-year prison terms for soldiers who refuse to battle.