Putin mobilizes reservists and puts “all means” on the table , H24info

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered the mobilization of 300,000 reservists to give new impetus to his offensive in Ukraine, saying he was ready to use “all means” of his vast arsenal against the West.

“It’s not a bluff”, hammered Mr. Putin, accusing Western countries of wanting to “destroy” Russia, of using “nuclear blackmail” against it and thus signifying that he was ready to use the atomic weapon.

The partial mobilization, announced during a rare address to the nation and effective from Wednesday, represents a major escalation in this conflict where the forces of Moscow have suffered several setbacks in recent weeks.

It comes the day after the announcement of “referendums” of annexation by Russia in four regions of eastern and southern Ukraine at the end of the week, an initiative strongly condemned by the Americans and the Europeans.

Several Western officials have seen in the partial mobilization announced Wednesday an admission of “weakness” of Mr. Putin, at a time when his forces are retreating in the face of Ukrainian counter-offensives.

This mobilization concerns “citizens in reserve, those who have already served” and is “necessary”, said Mr. Putin in a pre-recorded television address broadcast on Wednesday morning.

Lire aussi. Ukraine: les prorusses convoquent dans l’urgence des « référendums » d’annexion par la Russie

“We are only talking about partial mobilization”, he insisted, to reassure a population fearing a general mobilization.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 300,000 reservists were affected by this mobilization order, barely “1.1% of mobilizable resources”.

It remains to be seen how the Russian army will be able to accommodate, train and equip these hundreds of thousands of people, while its offensive in Ukraine has revealed serious logistical difficulties.

Imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny criticized the measure, saying it would lead to “a huge tragedy and a huge amount of death”.

– “Admission of failure”? –

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace called the partial mobilization an “admission of failure” illustrating that Ukraine “is winning”.

It is “a sign of weakness”, added the American ambassador to kyiv Bridget Brink. A “serious and bad” measure for Berlin.

Lire aussi. Poutine accuse l’Europe de bloquer les dons russes d’engrais aux pays pauvres

This mobilization could herald an increase in violence for Ukrainian populations already severely tested by seven months of conflict.

In Kharkiv (north-east), Ukraine’s second city near the Russian border, Svetlana, 63, urges the Russians to ignore the mobilization order and “finally wake up”, while around her residents are clearing debris from a building hit overnight by a missile.

Galina, a 50-year-old neighbor, gets angry with the Russians who say they want to “free” her. “What do you want to free us from? From our homes? From our relatives? Of our friends? “, she says.

It is precisely the recent development of the situation in the Kharkiv region that seems to have prompted Mr. Putin to decree a partial mobilization, a measure which had until then been rejected by the Kremlin which is trying to maintain a semblance of normality. in Russia despite the conflict.

The Russian army has indeed suffered setbacks in the face of Ukrainian counter-offensives in Kharkiv (north-east), where Moscow’s forces have been forced to give up a lot of ground, as well as in the region of Kherson (south).

Shoigu said on Wednesday that the Russian army had lost 5,937 soldiers since the start of the offensive, an official toll far below Ukrainian and Western estimates of tens of thousands of casualties.

– “Not a bluff” –

On the ground, fighting and bombing continued on Wednesday, with Ukrainian authorities accusing Russia of having again bombed the site of the Zaporizhia power plant (southern Ukraine), the largest in Europe.

Putin’s speech on Wednesday also marked an escalation in rhetoric against Western nations, which he accused of wanting to “destroy our country”.

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“Nuclear blackmail is also used (…) I would like to remind those who make such statements that our country also has various means of destruction”, declared the Russian president.

“We will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” he continued. “I say all the means (…) It’s not a bluff”, he insisted.

Its Minister of Defence, Mr. Choigou, bluntly affirmed that Russia was not fighting “not so much Ukraine as the West”.

Even before the partial mobilization, the announcement on Tuesday of annexation “referendums” in the regions controlled by Moscow in Ukraine, from September 23 to 27, had signaled a hardening of the conflict.

Especially since Russian military doctrine provides for the possibility of resorting to nuclear strikes if territories considered Russian by Moscow are attacked.

These elections will take place in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which form the Donbass (east), as well as in the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhia, in the south.

These votes were immediately criticized by kyiv, which called them “pseudo-referendums”, and by its Western allies.

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