President of Russia Vladimir Putin today announced a partial military mobilisation of the 2 million-strong military reserves in Russia. "Only citizens who are currently in the reserve and, above all, those who served in the armed forces, have certain military specialities and relevant experience, will be subject to conscription," Putin said in a televised speech, adding that the decree for partial mobilisation was signed.
Why has Putin ordered this partial mobilisation?
The order from Putin follows major setbacks faced by Russia in the war on Ukraine. The US-led Nato, while having a larger stockpile of nuclear weapons, gets wary of such threats, as observed since the Cuban missile crisis of early 1960. Putin reckons that this threat may thwart Nato supplies of sophisticated but conventional arms and ammunition to Ukraine.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military speciality and relevant experience,” Putin stressed.
Putin issued a warning to the West for helping build Ukrainian defence. "The West is calling to weaken, divide and destroy Russia. West has crossed the line," he said. He issued the nuclear threat, saying that Russia had "lots of weapons to reply" to "Western threats" and asserted that he was not bluffing.
"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we use all available means to protect our people. This is not a bluff," Putin said.
Where do the people of the affected areas of Ukraine stand?
Ukrainians living to the east of the Dneiper are eastern Slavic people, an ethnicity shared by Russians while areas to the west of the river by and large want to go with Nato.
Accentuating the ethnic divide, the pro-Russia separatist-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced a plan yesterday to hold referendums on becoming integral parts of Russia. Putin said his aim was to "liberate" east Ukraine's Donbas region, and that most people in the regions under Russian control did not want to be ruled by Kyiv.
The Kremlin-backed efforts to co-opt four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following significant territorial gains by Ukrainian forces in recent weeks.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on 24 February, citing Kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The Germany and France-brokered protocols were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has admitted that Kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and "create powerful armed forces."
Russia refers to these areas as free. The partial mobilisation was necessitated, Putin said, as it was incumbent for Russia to take the urgent decision to protect people in the “liberated lands”. “We don't have the moral right to give up these people (in Ukraine),” Putin said.
Ukraine president differs
On the other hand, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there were a lot of questions surrounding the upcoming votes in Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. However, he emphasised that the news would not change Ukraine's commitment to retake areas occupied by Russian forces.
"The situation on the front line clearly indicates that the initiative belongs to Ukraine," he said. "Our positions do not change because of the noise or any announcements somewhere. And we enjoy the full support of our partners in this," Zelenskyy said yesterday.