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Putin says military reserves to be conscripted in first TV address since February

The Ukrainian leader warned against giving in to Putin’s threats.

Updated Sep 21st 2022, 3:50 PM

VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS accused the West of attempting to destroy Russia as he announced “partial” conscription across the country.

Putin, speaking this morning, repeatedly claimed that his army was fighting a special military operation against “neo-nazis” and “the whole military machine of the West”.

He said he signed a “partial mobilisation” of reserves in Russia.

“I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Defence Ministry and of the General Staff to conduct partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation,” Putin said.

The conscription will affect only those who are in the military reserve and anyone with previous military experience. 

The Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said this will involve 300,000 people adding that students will be exempt and that only one percent of mobilisation will be used.  

Putin had been expected to deliver an address to the nation yesterday evening after it was announced that Moscow-held regions of the Ukraine are preparing to vote on annexation. However, the speech was later delayed until this morning.

The planned annexation votes have been met with condemnation from Western leaders.

He also threatened that he would use nuclear weapons to defend the integrity of Russia and stressed it by saying that he was “not bluffing”.

He said he would use “all available means” to protect the Russian territory. 

He accused the West of seeking to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”.

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.

“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction,” Putin added.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told German media today he does not believe Russia will use nuclear weapons.

“I don’t believe that he will use these weapons,” Zelensky told the TV station of Germany’s Bild newspaper, referring to nuclear arms. “I don’t believe that the world will allow him to use these weapons.”

The Ukrainian leader warned against giving in to Putin’s threats.

“Tomorrow, Putin can say – as well as Ukraine, we want part of Poland, otherwise we will use atomic weapons. We cannot make these compromises,” he said.

The Russian president’s decision to order a partial mobilisation was because of the low morale among his forces, said Zelenskyy.

“He needs an army of millions… he sees that a large part of those (troops) who come to us, just run away,” he said.

Putin “wants to drown Ukraine in blood, also the blood of his own soldiers”, Zelensky said.

Reaction

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, speaking in County Laois this morning, said that he was “very concerned” by the speech. 

“It’s a grave speech, in terms of the import of what he is saying. It’s an attempt to annex territory from Ukraine, and, of course, the people in Ukraine, and the veiled threat of nuclear. The climate is a very serious one.

“I think the West and European Union has to be very resilient, in support of Ukraine, and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people, and their right to a future as a country and their right to the European Union perspective,” he said. 

Martin said Ireland would continue to offer assistance to Ukrainian refugees and support the country’s application to the EU.

“I would call on President Putin and Russia to stop this war and declare a ceasefire.

“There was a needless killing of young people on all sides, needless killing of young people, and now more young people are going to be mobilised in Russia, for what, for a 19th century imperialist objective, which simply cannot and will not be realised.

“It’s a worrying decision of President Putin and his speech. Russia needs to realise that there is no alternative to the global rules based approach to diplomacy and to state-to-state relationships. That’s been the cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy, since the foundation of the state and will remain so,” he added. 

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, said that the only response to Putin’s announcement was for other countries to increase their support of Ukraine.

 He also stated that Putin “wants to throw more men into the flames of the war he has no chance of wining.”

The partial mobilisation ordered by President Vladimir Putin is a sign of “weakness”, the US ambassador in Ukraine said following the speech.

“Sham referenda and mobilisation are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” Bridget Brink wrote in a a Twitter message.

“The United States will never recognise Russia’s claim to purportedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she said.

Ben Wallace, the British Defence secretary, said Putin’s decision to mobilise military reservists to support the war in Ukraine shows that “his invasion is failing”.

“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah,” he said in a statement.

Nuclear

Kyiv said the referendums were meaningless and vowed to “eliminate” threats posed by Russia, saying its forces would keep retaking territory regardless of what Moscow or its proxies announced.

Political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said the vote announcements were a direct result of the success of Ukraine’s eastern counter-offensive.

“Putin does not want to win this war on the battlefield. Putin wants to force Kyiv to surrender without a fight,” she said.

As Putin was speaking the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom accused Russia of again striking the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant in southern Ukraine.

The strike damaged a power line causing the stoppage of several transformers of the number six reactor of the plant and forcing a brief start of emergency generators, Energoatom said.

“Even the presence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does not stop” the Russians, it said, calling on the agency to “more resolute actions” against Moscow.

Europe’s largest nuclear facility, located in Russian-held territory, has become a hot spot for concerns after tit-for-tat claims of attacks there.

With reporting from AFP and Lauren Boland. 

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