By nearly all accounts, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not gone quite according to the Kremlin’s plans, and the grim reality of the current status of the so-called “special military operation” seems to have prompted some moves from Russian President Vladimir Putin that appear rather desperate.
During a major speech delivered on Wednesday, Putin announced a “partial mobilization” to conscript replacement troops for the Russian military and doubled down on his overt threats to employ nuclear weapons if the “integrity” of Russian territory is violated, the Daily Mail reported.
The nuclear threats from Putin are actually nothing new, but the mobilization order and conscription of replacement troops — expected to raise around 300,000 new soldiers — is the first such instance in Russia since World War II.
Putin orders mobilization and conscription, calls to annex territory, reiterates nuclear threats
In his speech, Russian President Putin predictably accused Ukraine and the collective West of provoking the deadly conflict and blamed them for forcing him to announce the “partial mobilization” of conscripts that, at least for now, would be limited to “military reservists” and Russians with prior combat and military experience or who specialized in certain occupations deemed useful to the military.
In addition, he also announced dubious “referendum” votes in four Russian-occupied provinces of Ukraine — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia — in which residents of those regions could choose whether to remain as part of Ukraine or be annexed as Russian territory.
That ties in with Putin’s renewed threat to willingly resort to the use of nuclear weapons in response to the “nuclear blackmail” of the West and the possibility that Russian territory — presumably including the likely soon-to-be annexed parts of occupied Ukraine — would be violated.
“I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have,” Putin said. “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”
Mobilization and conscription order not going over well
According to Fox News, which cited a human rights group known as OVD-Info, the mobilization and conscription orders have not been well received by some Russians, and more than 2,300 Russians were said to have been arrested for engaging in public protests against the drafting of replacement troops.
The group further alleged that some of the arrested protesters — presumably those who are fighting-age men — were served with conscription papers after being taken into custody and faced the prospect of up to 10 years in prison if they refused to respond to the summons for military service.
Meanwhile, Fox News also noted that there has been a surge of Russians attempting to flee the country since the mobilization order was issued — the Daily Mail reported a spike in online searches for plane tickets and a surge in price for one-way flights out of the country — while neighboring European nations like Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have all since closed their borders with Russia.
Biden admin vows “catastrophic consequences” if Putin goes nuclear
As for Putin’s nuclear threats, Reuters reported that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that, “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.”
Though Sullivan declined to offer any specifics on what those consequences might be, he nonetheless revealed that the White House had frequently been in direct contact with the Kremlin this week and had privately “spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean.”