“I think it is necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense on the partial mobilization of reservists, those who have already served in the army and have relevant experience,” Putin said. It is the first mobilization in Russia after World War II.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu then announced that they would mobilize 300,000 people. He confirmed that those with military experience would be called up and trained before going to the battlefield.
He said that this is only a fraction of all reservists in Russia, there are supposed to be around 25 million in total. He also told Shoigu that the Russian forces have so far lost 5,937 of their members in the war in Ukraine. According to him, they are not fighting so much with Ukraine as with “to the whole West”.
In a televised address, Putin said it was his intention “free” the eastern Ukrainian region of the Donetsk Basin and that most of the people there do not want to go back under “the yoke of the neo-Nazis”. Putin’s attack on Ukraine or “special military operation” founded in this country in February with “denazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine.
Putin’s comments came a day after pro-Russian authorities announced imminent referendums on joining Russia in four regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces. Regarding the proposed referendums, Putin said they support the people there. We have no moral right to let these people down, he said. Referendums in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia are expected to take place in the coming days, from September 23 to 27.
According to Putin, the West has shown that it does not want peace between Ukraine and Russia. He accused the West of overstepping all bounds in its aggression against Russia, which it wants to destroy. He added that the West is nuclear blackmailing Russia. Russia has “plenty of weapons to answer” to threats from the West, he said.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people. This is not a bluff,” he said. The president also ordered an increase in funds for the production of weapons.
Zelenski thanked for condemning the referendums
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Western countries for condemning the intention to organize referendums on joining Russia in Ukraine’s separatist regions.
“I thank all friends and partners of Ukraine for their numerous and sharp condemnation of Russia’s intention to organize more sham referendums,” said Zelensky in an evening address on social networks.
Zelensky said that the announcement of referendums does not change Kyiv’s position in any way. “Let’s maintain unity, protect Ukraine, liberate the homeland and not show weakness,” he said.
Referendums have been announced for some time, but apparently pro-Russian representatives decided to accelerate their organization in the context of the recent advance of Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.
These are votes modeled on the referendum on the annexation of Crimea to Russia in 2014, the validity of which was not recognized by either Ukraine or the West.
New accusations against Russia about the shelling of the nuclear power plant
Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has accused Russia of renewed shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The attack reportedly damaged a power line, causing several reactor six transformers to shut down and generators to start.
“Russian terrorists shelled the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant again at night,” Energoatom announced on Telegram. He regretted that even the presence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not stop the attacks, and called for more decisive action against Moscow, reports the French news agency AFP.
Russian forces seized the six-reactor nuclear power plant, considered the largest in Europe, shortly after the invasion began. Fears of a nuclear disaster increased after fighting intensified in its vicinity in early July. The warring parties constantly shift the responsibility for shelling to each other.
At the beginning of September, a team of IAEA experts arrived at the nuclear power plant site.
Ukraine and its Western allies have repeatedly called for the demilitarization of the areas around the country’s nuclear power plants. At the beginning of the war, for example, clashes also took place near Chernobyl in the north, where a nuclear explosion in 1986 caused enormous damage.
On Monday, the Ukrainian side accused Russia of shelling another Pivdenoukrajinsk nuclear power plant in the Mykolaiv region in the south of the country. Its director, Igor Polovič, assessed on Tuesday that Russia is escalating “nuclear blackmail”.