Putin announces 'partial mobilisation' of Russia's military
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Putin’s decision to partialy mobilise has been described as a decision taken in ‘agony’. On Tuesday, the Russian parliament signed a law extending punishments for defaulting troops in an apparent move Putin is increasingly losing support from his own people. According to the UK Ministry of Defence, the move is a sign the Russian President is facing public criticism in the wake of his significant losses on the battlefield.
In a statement, the MOD said: “The Russian civilian and military leadership has faced significant pressure over the last two weeks. These new measures have highly likely been brought forwards due to public criticism and mark a further development in Russia’s strategy.
“Putin is accepting greater political risk by undermining the fiction that Russia is neither in a war nor a national crisis in the hope of generating more combat power.”
The Russian leader on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail”, Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.
Putin used a televised address to issue a nuclear threat, warning that his country would use all means at its disposal to protect its territory, adding: “It’s not a bluff.”
Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 reservists will be mobilised as Moscow seeks to reverse setbacks which have seen Kyiv’s forces liberate previously occupied territory in parts of Ukraine.
Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko, warned Putin’s decision will cause “unrest” in Moscow at the end of the war.
He said: “Putin is in agony. He threw all his cards on the table.
“He used to do anything to avoid mobilisation – he knew that polls only showed 10% support for it.
“When these hastily mobilised men return from war, they will destabilise Russia and throw it into unrest.”
Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and claimed “high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states” had talked about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia.
“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction,” he said.
Moscow-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine are set to hold referendums on becoming parts of Russia, which could give the Kremlin the pretext for a wider war because Mr Putin would be able to claim parts of his state were being attacked.
Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan questioned whether Mr Putin was “in control”.
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She told Sky News: “Some of the language there was quite concerning at the end and obviously we would urge for calm.”
The Chichester MP also said: “It’s something that we should take very seriously because, you know, we’re not in control.
“I’m not sure he’s in control either, really. I mean, this is obviously an escalation and, of course, for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war.”
Melinda Simmons, the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, tweeted: “Watched Putin’s speech. He still refuses to understand Ukraine.
“Partial mobilisation and sham referenda don’t change that essential weakness.”
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