In a televised address to the nation aired on Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization.
Putin said he signed a decree to confirm the partial mobilization to ensure Russian territorial integrity amid the threats emanating from the West.
“I find it necessary to support the proposal of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories,” Putin said.
“We are talking about partial mobilization. In other words, only military reservists, primarily those who served in the armed forces and have specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience, will be called up,” he added.
In his speech, Putin also accused the West of what he called “nuclear blackmail” against Moscow, referring to some high-ranking representatives of NATO states who had raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Russia.
“I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have,” Putin said.
“In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”
Following Putin’s announcement, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said he expected 300,000 people of the country's reserves of 25 million to support the mobilization effort.
The announcement comes a day after the Russian-appointed administrations of regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on joining Russia. The referendums will start on Friday in the Russian-controlled Luhansk and Kherson regions, and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.
The first mobilization in Russia since World War II comes seven months after Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24. The invasion by land, air, and the sea began after a pre-dawn TV address where Putin demanded that Ukraine’s military lay down its arms. The Russian president claimed that the decision was aimed at protecting the people of two self-proclaimed separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine, which were allegedly attacked by the Ukrainian military. The offensive was launched in several northern, eastern and southern directions as Russia tried to cripple the defense lines of the Ukrainian army quickly. However, the strong resistance of Ukraine’s military and civilians across the country foiled the blitzkrieg attempts of the Russian army.
Ukraine and Russia have been at odds since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions. Ukraine accuses Russia of annexing the Crimean Peninsula — a territory that extends into the Black Sea — and backing anti-government separatist regimes in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.