Russia is launching a partial mobilization of its citizens, President Vladimir Putin announced during a highly anticipated speech to the nation on Wednesday morning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists Wednesday, escalating tensions with the Western backers of Ukraine. He also warned the West that he isn’t bluffing about using everything at his disposal to protect Russia.
The Kremlin has reached out for volunteers to replenish its troops in Ukraine, and has authorized the partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists.
Despite Russia’s harsh laws against criticizing the military and the war, there were protests across the country, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. More than 800 Russians were arrested in anti-war protests.
The Vesna opposition movement called for protests, and the Moscow prosecutor’s office warned that organizing or participating in such actions could lead to up to 15 years in prison.
Western leaders said the mobilization was in response to Russia’s recent battlefield losses in Ukraine. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression.
Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans for referendums on becoming integral parts of Russia. The votes are all but certain to go Moscow’s way.
Kirby said Russia has suffered tens of thousands of casualties, has terrible troop morale, desertion problems and is “forcing the wounded back (into) the fight.” Shoigu said 5,937 Russian soldiers have died in the conflict, far lower than Western estimates.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been the target of international criticism. Putin is not attending the U.N. General Assembly.
Putin’s mobilization gambit could backfire, because it concedes Russia’s underlying military shortcomings and makes the war unpopular at home.
Ukrainian presidential spokesman Sergii Nikiforov said conscripts sent to Ukraine would face the same fate as ill-prepared Russian forces who unsuccessfully tried to take Kyiv early in the war.
Dmitry Oreshkin, a Russian political analyst, predicted that Russians will resist the mobilization through “passive sabotage” and “bribe their way out of this mobilization, leave the country”.
The war in Ukraine has raised food and energy prices and caused fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
Putin said that Russia has various means of destruction and will use them if the territorial integrity of the country is threatened.