Putin mobilises more troops for Ukraine, says West wants to destroy Russia

2022-09-21T06:54:21Z
Ukraine extended its hold on recently recaptured territory on Monday as troops marched farther east into areas abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on occupation forces in the Donbas region. This report produced by Tamara Lindstrom. Video contains graphic images.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” that Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people – this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation, adding Russia had “lots of weapons to reply”.

Russia’s defence minister said the partial mobilisation will see 300,000 reserves called and up would apply to those with previous military experience.

Putin’s partial mobilisation significantly escalates the conflict over Ukraine and comes as Russia battles a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has forced its troops to retreat and surrender some occupied territory.

Putin said the partial military mobilisation of its 2 million-strong military reserves was to defend Russia and its territories, claiming the West did not want peace in Ukraine.

Putin’s speech was a worrying escalation and the threats he made in it must be taken seriously, British foreign office minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News.

“Clearly 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. This is obviously an escalation,” she said.

Russia’s rouble fell and global oil prices surged after Putin’s comments. The war has already caused a spike in fuel and food prices around the world.

Putin restated his aim was to “liberate” east Ukraine’s Donbas industrial heartland region and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the “yoke” of Ukraine.

Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas region Moscow partially occupied in 2014, to be independent states. Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine held by Russian forces to be illegally occupied.

Russia now holds about 60% of Donetsk and had captured nearly all of Luhansk by July after slow advances during months of intense fighting.

Those gains are now under threat after Russian forces were driven from neighbouring Kharkiv province this month, losing control of their main supply lines for much of the Donetsk and Luhansk front lines.

Ahead of Putin’s speech, in an apparently coordinated move on Tuesday, Moscow-installed leaders in occupied areas of four Ukrainian regions announced plans to hold referendums on joining Russia in coming days.

Related Galleries:

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes an address, dedicated to a military conflict with Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia, in this still image taken from video released September 21, 2022. Russian Presidential Press Service/Kremlin via REUTERS
Russian service members drive tanks along a street during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia May 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo
Vehicles drive past advertising boards, including panels displaying pro-Russian slogans, in a street in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Luhansk, Ukraine September 20, 2022. One of the boards reads: “World changes – truth stays. Army of Russia”. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Vehicles drive past advertising boards, including panels displaying pro-Russian slogans, in a street in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Luhansk, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Destroyed cars are seen, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Ukrainian servicemen repair a Russian tank captured during a counteroffensive operation, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the Russian border in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova
Ukrainian serviceman prepares to tow a destroyed Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Ukrainian servicemen repair a Russian tank captured during a counteroffensive operation, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the Russian border in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova
Ukrainian servicemen repair a Russian tank captured during a counteroffensive operation, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the Russian border in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova
Ukrainian servicemen ride on Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and a tank, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Damaged cars are seen in the town of Kupiansk, recently liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 19, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
Ukrainian service members ride on an armoured fighting vehicle in the town of Kupiansk, recently liberated by the Armed Forces, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 19, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
Local residents carry away bread loaves from a vehicle distributing humanitarian aid, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Ukrainian servicemen ride on Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A Ukrainian national flag flies on an entrance to the town of Kupiansk, recently liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 19, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

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