Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday the partial mobilization of Russia’s armed forces, with the partial mobilization taking effect the same day following the publication of the official decree ordering it.
In a pre-recorded national address, Putin said:
“Only those citizens who are in the reserve and, above all, those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience will be called up for military service. Those called up for military service will necessarily undergo additional military training before being sent to their units.”
Putin also welcomed “referendums” being held by Russian occupation authorities in four regions of Ukraine. Occupation authorities in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia announced on Tuesday that they would hold “referendums” on having the regions join Russia. Kyiv, NATO, the United States and France have described the “referendums” as shams to justify Russian escalation.
The Russian president claimed without evidence that Western nations were engaged in “nuclear blackmail” against Russia, saying that he was “not bluffing” that Russia would use all means available to protect its territory.
Following the speech, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said that the partial mobilization aimed to call up 300,000 Russian reservists, claiming that the amount was just over 1 percent of the 25 million reservists available to be called up. Shoigu reiterated Putin’s statement that only reservists with combat experience would be called up, and ruled out the possibility of calling up conscripts or university students to fight in Ukraine.
Putin’s address was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, but was subsequently delayed to Wednesday morning with no explanation. In the hours leading up to the original broadcast time of the address and after the delay, Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for the phrase “how to leave Russia”.
The address was announced after Russian lawmakers unanimously passed legislation introducing the concepts of “mobilization” and “martial law” to Russia’s criminal code earlier on Tuesday, sparking speculation that Putin would be announcing a general mobilization. The legislation also introduced harsher penalties for Russian troops found guilty of surrender, deserting, insubordination or refusing to fight.