BREAKING: Russian President Putin Announces "Partial Mobilization"
In a televised speech on Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of Russian reservists who have previous military experience to serve in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the speech, Mr. Putin also said that he "supports" the referendums planned for this weekend in the Ukrainian Oblasts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson which will seek to immediately annex these regions to Russia. Except for the Luhansk Oblast, none of these three oblasts are fully under Russian control, with a majority of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts still being under Ukrainian control. Military analysts believe that it may take up to a year for the newly-mobilized reservists to effectively enter into the Russian military and many of the reservists will be poorly trained and poorly motivated, as many elite Russian units have already been involved in the war since day one.
Experts believe this move by Mr. Putin may be an effort to halt Western aid to Ukraine as the annexations would, in the mind of Russia, make these areas now part of Russia. Mr. Putin ended his speech by saying that his threat to use nuclear weapons was not a bluff and that if any part of Russia is touched by Ukraine, Russia would use all weapons necessary to defend themselves. This would presumably include the areas where the referendums will take place this weekend.
Even before Mr. Putin's speech, which was pre-recorded, NATO and Western leaders denounced the announcement of the referendums and said they would not recognize any result from the "sham" referendums. Mr. Putin's speech also sent the Moscow Stock Market tumbling, as stock traders are fearful of further instability in Russia.
The move by Mr. Putin signifies perhaps the most extreme escalation of the conflict since it began and shows that despite protests from world leaders, even from some of Russia's allies, to end the war, Mr. Putin seems poised to continue on and push harder for a military victory in Ukraine.