Vladimir Putin announced part of Russia’s military mobilization in a special address to the nation on Wednesday.
The Russian president said reservists, especially those with active duty experience, would be called up, a move that comes amid weeks of setbacks in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens currently in the reserve will be conscripted, and most importantly, those who serve in the armed forces have a certain military expertise and relevant experience,” Putin said.
In announcing Russia’s first such mobilization since World War II, Putin warned the West against continuing “nuclear blackmail” and threatened to respond with the power of his own vast nuclear arsenal.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people – this is not bluff,” Putin added.
His remarks came after Russian-controlled separatist regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold a vote to become part of the Russian Federation.
Referendums are expected to begin on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson and the Russian-controlled regions of Zaporozhye and Donetsk.
The president claimed his goal was to “liberate” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, as most people in the region do not want to be ruled by Kyiv.
The news also comes a day after world leaders strongly condemned Russia at the UN General Assembly and called on Putin to end Ukraine’s six-month unprovoked war.