Putin Announces Partial Military Mobilisation Against Ukraine Amid Losses: What It Means

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict reaches its seventh month, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of engaging in 'nuclear blackmail' and noted and warned the West that the military mobilisation is 'not a bluff'.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

With the Russia-Ukraine war nears seven months, the Russian President has taken an aggressive stance and announced partial military mobilisation in Ukraine. With Moscow losing ground on the battlefield, Putin said that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory and also warned the West that “it's not a bluff”.

Putin has also accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

What does partial military mobilistaion mean?

Partial military mobilisation means that Rssia would be intensifying its attack on Ukraine. The total number of reservists to be called up is 300,000, officials said. Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilisation, which is due to start on Wednesday. 

“We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience,” Putin said.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised interview Wednesday that only those with relevant combat and service experience will be mobilized.

Shoigu also said that 5,937 Russian soldiers have died in the Ukraine conflict, far lower than Western estimates that Russia has lost tens of thousands. 

Why Putin is escalating the war against Ukraine 

Putin said the decision to partially mobilise was “fully adequate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories.”

The Russian leader's televised address to the nation released Wednesday came a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming integral parts of Russia. Putin's remarks also come against the backdrop of the UN General Assembly in New York at which Moscow was warned about its referendum plans. 

The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following Ukrainian successes. The referendums, which have been expected to take place since the first months of the war, will start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

Warning to the West

Putin accused the West in engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said.

Nuclear threat

What makes Putin's warning more concerning is Russia's high military prowess when it comes to nuclear might. Russia possesses approximately 5,977 nuclear weapons, which it can launch from missiles, submarines, and aircraft. In 2021, Russia spent an estimated US$8.6 billion to build and maintain its nuclear forces. 

How Russians are reacting

Even a partial mobilization is likely to increase dismay among Russians about the war. The Vesna opposition movement called for nationwide protests on Wednesday, saying “Thousands of Russian men -- our fathers, brothers and husbands -- will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?"

It was unclear how many would dare to protest amid Russia's overall suppression of opposition and harsh laws against discrediting soldiers and the military operation.

(With inputs from Associated Press)