On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine. He also stated that Moscow would respond with the might of its entire vast arsenal if the West pursued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” over the conflict in Ukraine. Putin referred to this as “nuclear blackmail.”
It was Russia’s first mobilization of this kind since World Conflict II, and it was an indication that the war, which is now in its seventh month, was about to take a serious turn for the worst.
It came as a result of recent defeats suffered by Russian troops, who were expelled from territory they had seized in the northeast of Ukraine as a result of a counteroffensive launched by Ukraine earlier this month and are now stalled in the south.
Putin made the following statement in a televised speech to the people of Russia: “If the territorial integrity of our country is challenged, we will employ all available measures to safeguard our people – this is not a bluff.”
He said that Russia has “a lot of weaponry to retaliate with.”
According to Russia’s Minister of Defense, the partial mobilization would result in the call-up of 300,000 military reservists, and it will only apply to those who have prior military experience.
Despite the fact that Russia has been engaged in a number of wars and conflicts since the end of World War Two, this was the first time that a call-up of this kind has been issued since then. Conscripts were used throughout the course of the lengthy conflict that the Soviet Union fought in Afghanistan.
According to Sergei Shoigu, the Minister of Defense of Russia, 5,397 Russian servicemen have been killed in action since the beginning of the fight.
Last month, the United States said that it thought between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian servicemen had been killed or injured, while in July, the United States assessed that the death toll for Russia was somewhere around 15,000.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian presidential administration, said that the Russian mobilisation was a predicted action that would prove to be immensely unpopular, and that it highlighted the fact that the conflict was not proceeding according to Moscow’s plan.
Podolyak told Reuters that the plea was “absolutely expected” and that it seemed to be more of an effort to rationalize the party’s own failure. It is quite evident that the conflict will not go according to Russia’s plan.
Before Putin’s talk, global leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York decried Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its intentions to organise referendums on joining Russia in the coming days in four seized areas of Ukraine. This took place before Putin’s address.
Pro-Russian regional leaders made what appears to be a coordinated announcement on Tuesday that they will hold referendums in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia between September 23 and September 27. These provinces account for approximately 15 percent of the total land area in Ukraine.
Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas territory that Moscow partly controlled in 2014, are already regarded as separate nations by Russia. Luhansk and Donetsk are part of the Donbas region. The seized territory in Ukraine that is controlled by Russian military is seen as unlawfully occupied by both Ukraine and the West.
After months of fierce warfare and modest progress, Russia currently controls around sixty percent of Donetsk and had virtually completely taken control of Luhansk by the month of July.
These achievements are now in jeopardy as a result of Russian soldiers being expelled from the neighbouring Kharkiv province earlier this month. As a result, Russian forces have lost control of their primary supply routes for the majority of the Donetsk and Luhansk frontlines.