President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered “partial” mobilisation in Russia, in an escalation of what Moscow calls its military operation in pro-Western Ukraine.
“I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Defence Ministry and of the General Staff to conduct partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation,” Putin said during a televised address to the nation.
He added that a relevant decree has already been signed and will come into force on Wednesday.
According to televised remarks from Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu “300,000 reservists will be called up” or “just over one percent” of the number of people who can be mobilised in the country.
He said that the “line of contact” in Ukraine is over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) long and the “primary” goal of mobilisation is to help “secure” territories behind and on the frontline.
Shoigu added that 5,937 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since the February military intervention, in a rare admission of military losses from Moscow.
Putin said that Russia will use all available means to protect its territory, accusing the West of seeking to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.
“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction,” Putin added.
Shoigu said that Russia is “fighting not so much Ukraine as the collective West” in Ukraine.
According to Putin, Russia’s “main goal — the liberation of the whole territory of Donbas”, an industrial area in eastern Ukraine partially controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists “have been and remain unchanged”.