Putin calls up reservists, warns Russia will use ‘all means’ for defence

President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military mobilization and vowed on Wednesday to use “all available means” to protect Russian territory, after Moscow-held regions of Ukraine suddenly announced annexation referendums.

The votes, already denounced by Kyiv and the West as a “sham”, will dramatically up the stakes in the seven-month old conflict in Ukraine by giving Moscow the ability to accuse Ukrainian forces of attacking its own territory.

In a pre-recorded address to the nation early on Wednesday, Putin accused the West of trying to “destroy” his country through its backing from Kyiv, and said Russia needed to support those in Ukraine who wanted to “determine their own future”.

– ‘Not a bluff’ –

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

The sudden flurry of moves by Moscow this week came with Russian forces in Ukraine facing their biggest challenge since the start of the conflict.

A sweeping Ukrainian counter-offensive in recent weeks has seen Kyiv’s forces retake hundreds of towns and villages that had been controlled by Russia for months.

Like in 2014, Washington, Berlin and Paris denounced the latest referendums and said the international community would never recognize the results.

“Sham referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” the US ambassador in Ukraine, Bridget Brink, said on Twitter.

– Strike at nuclear plant –

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

The Ukrainian nuclear operator meanwhile on Wednesday Energy Russia accused of again striking the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant in southern Russia.

“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.

bur/jmm

Originally published as Putin calls up reservists, warns Russia will use ‘all means’ for defense

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