Officials said partial deployment of 3,00,000 ‘reservist’ (reserved soldiers) has been planned.
Putin, in a televised address to the country, told the West in a warning tone that Russia would do everything possible to defend its region and that it was not “blatant rhetoric”. The President said that he had signed the order and that the process would begin immediately.
A reservist is a person who is a member of a ‘military reserve force’. It is a common citizen who is given military training and can be posted anywhere if needed. It does not provide services during peace time.
In September, the Ukrainian army recaptured a large number of areas occupied by Russian troops.
Putin said the expanded border line, continued shelling by Ukrainian forces along the Russian border and attacks on liberated areas required the withdrawal of troops from the reserve.
His speech came just a day before the Russian-occupied territories of southern and eastern Ukraine announced that they would hold referendums between 23 and 27 September to become an integral part of Russia.
Soon after Putin’s address, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that 300,000 people would be called for a partial deployment. “Three lakh reserve troops will be called in,” he told Russia-24 TV.
US Ambassador to Ukraine Brigitte Brink called Putin’s announcement a sign of “weakness”. He tweeted that sending more troops with false referendums is a sign of weakness and Russian failure.
He said that the US will never recognize Russian claims on Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia by force and that the US will always stand by Ukraine, as long as it takes.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said Putin’s decision to mobilize troops showed his offensive was failing. Wallace said in a statement that Putin and his defense minister sent thousands of their civilians to death who were neither properly equipped nor had the right leadership.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday that all efforts for a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis should be supported.
Asked about the recent status of the Russo-Ukraine war, Wang told reporters that China’s position on Ukraine has been clear and consistent, according to the state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN). He said the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously.
Putin alleged in his speech that the West was trying to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy Russia. He said “they are now openly saying that in 1991 they succeeded in splitting the Soviet Union and now it is time to do the same with Russia which should be divided into several regions….”
He accused the Ukrainian government of bringing in foreign mercenaries and nationalists, military units trained according to ‘NATO’ standards, and taking orders from Western advisers. He said that today Russian troops are fighting along a border line of more than 1,000 kilometers and they are fighting not only against neo-Nazi units but against the entire military machinery of the West.
The Russian president accused Western countries of “nuclear blackmailing”. “Those who make such statements about Russia, I want to remind them that our country also has many means of destruction that are more modern than NATO countries,” he said. When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all means available to us to defend Russia and our people.
Putin said, “We are talking about only partial deployment, such citizens who are in reserve will be compulsorily deployed.” Even among those who have previously served in the armed forces, they have experience and skills, they will come.
The Russian Defense Minister said that so far 5,937 Russian soldiers have been killed and 61,207 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in military operations with Ukraine.
For the first time since March, Russia has acknowledged its losses during a military operation. Russian casualties at the end of March amounted to 1,351.