Putin Orders Reservists to Mobilize, Threatens use of Nuclear Weapons
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week confirmed Moscow would use “all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity,” prompting fears the dictator may decide to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
Last Tuesday, Putin ordered a partial mobilization that will see the conscription of up to 300,000 reservist civilians (the order also prevents current soldiers from ending their contracts prematurely). That same day, Russian lawmakers passed a measure tightening laws against desertion including a prison sentence of up to 10 years for soldiers who refuse to fight.
Russia’s mobilization order is the nation’s first since World War II and has been interpreted as an admission of failure.
Indeed, Russian troops have lost thousands of square miles of territory in recent weeks to Ukrainian forces intent on pushing them out.
“[Putin] and his defense minister have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill-equipped and badly led,” laments British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. “No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united, and Russia is becoming a global pariah.”
As some analysts have pointed out, Russia’s mobilization order is unlikely to impact the battlefield for months due to a lack of training facilities and equipment.
During a televised address delivered last week, Putin once again blamed the West for igniting the conflict between Moscow and Ukraine and suggested NATO had approved the use of nuclear weapons against Russia (there is no proof to support this claim).
“To those who allow themselves such statements, I would like to remind them, Russia also has many types of weapons of destruction, the components of which in some cases are more modern than those of the countries of NATO,” warned Putin, adding that his threat to use any means necessary was ‘not a bluff.’
Putin went on to accuse Western powers of deliberately weakening Russia and described a years-long plot that involved staging a coup in Ukraine, sowing discord in Russia, and arming Muslim terrorists living in the southern part of the state.
His words were immediately met with criticism from the Chinese government:
“We call on the parties concerned to achieve a cease-fire and an end to the war through dialogue and negotiation, and find a way to take into account the legitimate security concerns of all parties as soon as possible,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. “We also hope that the international community will create conditions and space for this.”
Simultaneous with the mobilization order came the announcement that four Russian-controlled regions of southern and eastern Ukraine would soon hold a referendum on annexation. If these regions become a part of Russia, any attack against them could be described as a direct assault against Russian territory.