Putin ordered the escalation of the war in Ukraine, according to Reuters


© Reuters Vehicles drive past billboards, including panels displaying pro-Russian slogans, on a road during Russia-Ukraine conflict in Luhansk, Ukraine. One of the boards says: “The world changes – the truth remains. Russian Army “. R


By Pavel Polityuk, Humeira Pamuk and Caleb Davis

KYIV/NEW YORK/GADANSK, Poland (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia to arm itself for the first time since World War II, shocking Westerners who described it as an act of desperation in a losing war.

Putin made the announcement in a televised speech in which he announced that he had begun a move to annex Ukrainian territories and would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

Flights from Russia quickly sold out, and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for mass demonstrations against the campaign. The Russians had already received notification of the call, and the police prevented the men from leaving a city in the south.

Independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said more than 1,300 people had been arrested in the protests as of Wednesday evening.

In a country that counts millions of veterans as reservists, Putin’s “partial mobilization” announcement gave no indication of who would be called up. According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 people will be moved out of a pool of 25 million. Professional soldiers’ contracts are extended indefinitely.

Putin also stated that he plans to join four Ukrainian regions, and said that Moscow will help Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions join Russia and hold a referendum to implement the results.

Without providing any evidence, Putin began urging officials in NATO states to use nuclear weapons against Russia. “They need to know that the weather can turn against them,” he said, adding that Russia “also has different methods of destruction.”

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all means to protect Russia and our people. This is not an eclipse.”

“Once again, today, President Putin made a clear nuclear threat to Europe,” Biden told world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, saying he thinks Putin is more likely to use nuclear weapons, but that the threat itself shows why it’s important to stand up to him.

“Tomorrow Putin, we need a part of Poland in addition to Ukraine, otherwise we will use nuclear weapons.” “We cannot make these deals,” Zelensky told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

EU foreign ministers called an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York late Wednesday to advise Kiev on new sanctions and weapons after Putin’s order.

“It is clear that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “We are not afraid.”

Recruitment drive

Calling a provocation is perhaps the most dangerous domestic political move in Putin’s two decades in power, and comes after months of Kremlin vows to do nothing.

The war so far appears to have gained public support in a country where free media are all but closed and public criticism of the “special military operation” is banned.

But for many ordinary Russians, especially in the urban middle class, the prospect of being sent to fight would be the first hint of a war that would affect them personally.

“It’s clear that the crime war is getting worse, it’s getting deeper, and Putin is trying to involve as many people as possible in it,” jailed opposition leader Navalny said in a video message recorded and published by his lawyers. “He wants to anoint hundreds of thousands of people in this blood.”

Shortly after Putin’s announcement, employment agencies handed over conscription papers to homeowners’ associations, said Pavel Chikov, a St. Petersburg human rights lawyer who advises clients on conscription. Medical workers in Moscow “were receiving mass summonses from recruitment offices to receive mobilization orders,” he said in a telegram.

In a memo reported by Reuters, one large company told workers: “We have workers who have been called in for tomorrow.” Everyone should know that you can’t call in the morning and work the next day.

“Let the managers know so we don’t meet each other,” he said.

On the Moscow metro, men can be seen studying summonses.

“You always feel stressed at times like this because you have a wife and children and you think about him,” one resident told Reuters.

“They don’t let people out of Kursk. There are police checkpoints everywhere, they check every car. They check if someone is driving, if he is. They ask a woman to open the luggage compartment. If the person is from Kursk, go back. They will answer you.

“Sign of Russia’s Weakness”

Putin’s announcement comes weeks after Russian invasion forces struck northeastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces have seized some of the main supply routes to the Russian front in the east and said they were preparing to push into territory Moscow has been holding for months.

“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community is united and Russia is becoming the pariah of the world,” British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said.

Many Western military experts say that raising hundreds of thousands of new troops would take months, do little to cushion Russia’s losses, and even make matters worse by drawing resources away from the battlefield to train and equip recruits.

“Jaw dropping. New sign of RU weakness,” tweeted Mark Hertling, former commander of US ground forces in Europe. “Putting ‘new people’ on the front lines who are damaged, have low morale and don’t want to be[there]shows more of a RU disaster.”

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