Putin introduces conscription, accuses West of attempting to ‘destroy’ Russia

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of partial military service on Monday in a speech accusing the West of “nuclear blackmail” and trying to “destroy” Russia.

Vladimir Putin has announced the start of conscription measures in Russia in response to the growing difficulties the country is facing with the war in Ukraine, a move that potentially significantly escalates the already bloody conflict in Moscow.

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The announcement was made as part of a rare public address by the Russian president to the citizens of his country, in which he also accused the Western powers of wanting to eventually “destroy” Russia.

While disinformation regarding the ongoing conflict is rife, at least there now appears to be consensus that the invasion is not going as well for Russian forces as the Kremlin had initially hoped. The new Russian conscription measures are likely aimed at making more troops available to the conflict in an effort to salvage what Russia has euphemistically called its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In a speech delivered Wednesday morning, Vladimir Putin reiterated Russian claims that the invasion of Ukraine was purely defensive in nature, specifically aimed at protecting the “Russian Crimea” and Donbas regions — which have a significant population of ethnic Russians. – of alleged aggressive measures by the Zelensky government in Kiev. Putin conquered and colonized Crimea in 2014.

Putin accused the Ukrainian government of staging a “genocide” in the Donbas against people “who refused to recognize the government created in Ukraine” as a result of what the Russian head of state described as a Western-backed “coup” in 2014 .

The “coup” referred to by Putin is known in Ukraine as the Maidan uprising, a wave of protests that resulted in the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Russian officials have repeatedly argued that current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is illegitimate due to the events of 2014, despite being elected in 2019 against the incumbent president who succeeded Yanukovych, Petro Poroshenko. No international observer or dissident in Ukraine has questioned the legitimacy of the 2019, not even those who oppose the 2014 Maidan.

Putin also claimed that Moscow’s interests to secure the Donbas and Crimea were received with much understanding by Ukrainian officials in the aftermath of peace talks early in the war, but that such peace talks were ultimately sabotaged by Western leaders, who he said. Putin urged Ukraine to continue fighting the conflict.

“The West has crossed every line in its aggressive anti-Russian policy,” Putin said. “In Washington, London and Brussels, they are directly pressuring Kiev to move military operations into our territory. They no longer hide and say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by all means, followed by the deprivation of political, economic, cultural, in general, any sovereignty, with the complete plunder of our country.”

Putin also accused the West of threatening Russia with “nuclear blackmail”, saying his country was ready to defend itself by any means necessary. Putin himself seemed to threaten the possible use of nuclear weapons, if Russia’s ‘territorial integrity’ was jeopardized.

“I would like to remind those who make such statements about Russia that our country also has different types of weapons, some of which are more modern than the weapons that NATO countries have,” he said.

“In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the weapon systems at our disposal,” Putin continued, before warning that this threat of retaliation ” no bluffing”.

Arguing that the Russian military is now effectively fighting “the entire military machine of the collective West”, Putin stated that he has begun the “partial mobilization” of the Russian Federation with the aim of supporting the war effort.

One such new mobilization, which Reuters says is the first of its kind in the country since World War II, includes the implementation of conscription for the military, although Putin argued that such a measure will be extremely limited in scope.

“I repeat, we are talking specifically about partial mobilization, that is, only civilians currently on the reservation will be conscripted, and especially those who have served in the armed forces have certain military specialties and relevant experience,” he said. he. said, before going on to say that any enlisted person would “receive the status, payments and all social guarantees of military personnel serving under contract.”

The mobilization is likely to kickstart Russia’s now grueling war effort in Ukraine. Reuters reported that the country’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said as many as 300,000 people could be drafted into military service from Russia’s vast reserves of about 25 million people.

Putin also called for the status of volunteer soldiers and troops of Russia’s allied self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine to be regularized and given the same legal status as the rest of Russian troops fighting in the region. provide the same “material, medical and social benefits”.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace denounced Putin has broken his own promise not to mobilize his country for the conflict, saying that the conscription order is in fact a “confession made [Putin’s] invasion failed.”

“He and his defense secretary have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill-equipped and ill-managed,” Wallace noted. “No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war.”

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