Moscow, Sep 21 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday announced the partial mobilization of the military in a possible escalation of tensions as he accused the West of engaging in a nuclear blackmail over the Ukrainian conflict.
In a televised speech to the nation, Putin said he had signed the decree on the partial mobilization of the military “to protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He said it was needed “to ensure the security of our people and people of the liberated territories.”
“I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the ministry of defense on conducting partial mobilization in the Russian Federation,” Putin said.
He said the mobilization would begin on Wednesday, noting that only reservists would be subject to conscription.
“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.”
The decision on partial mobilization could lead to an escalation of the conflict over Ukraine.
Russia has not formally declared war on Ukraine, calling the Feb.24 invasion a “special military operation” now completing seven months.
The Russian territorial gains in Ukraine have come under threat after Ukrainian troops drove the Russian forces of the Kharkiv province this month.
Putin insisted that the decision to launch a “preventive military operation (in Ukraine) was absolutely necessary,” since the Ukrainian attack on Donbas was inevitable.
The Russian president accused the West of using Ukraine as an instrument to attack Russia.
In his address, Putin accused the West of engaging in nuclear blackmail against his country and trying to destroy Russia.
He said he was not bluffing and would use “all the means at our disposal” to protect Russian and its territorial integrity.
He stressed that “they (the Westerners) openly say that in 1991 they dismembered the Soviet Union and that now it is the turn of Russia”.
The decision to mobilize Russians comes after Putin announced referendums in the occupied Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The regions in eastern and southern parts of Ukraine said Tuesday that they would vote next week on whether or not to become parts of Russia.
Pro-Russian forces in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kherson are demanding to be annexed to Russia soon, a call that comes as Ukrainian forces rapidly advance into the east, recapturing territories seized by Moscow.
The Ukrainian presidency described the call for a referendum as “blackmail.”
“The enemy is afraid,” said Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine.
Yermak accused Russia of resorting to threats like calling for referendums and mobilizing Russian men, adding Ukraine would “solve” the Russian problem “by force.” EFE