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Putin sets partial military call-up, accuses West of ‘nuclear blackmail’
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia on Wednesday.

It’s the first call-up in Russia since World War II and is sure to further fuel tensions with the Western backers of Ukraine, according to AP.

The Russian leader, in a seven-minute televised address to the nation aired Wednesday morning, also warned the West that he isn’t bluffing over using all the means at his disposal to protect Russia’s territory, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Russia’s nuclear capability. Putin has previously warned the West not to back Russia against the wall and has rebuked NATO countries for supplying weapons to help Ukraine.

The total number of reservists to be called up could be as high as 300,000, officials said.

Shortly after Putin’s address, Russian media reported a sharp spike in demand for plane tickets abroad amid an apparent scramble to leave despite exorbitant prices for flights.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov argued that Russia is effectively fighting against NATO because the alliance’s members have been supplying weapons to Kyiv.

The partial mobilization order came a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming integral parts of Russia. The referendums will start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, tweeted that the mobilization is a sign “of weakness, of Russian failure.” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed that assessment, describing Putin’s move as an admission that his operation is failing.

Putin's speech was a worrying escalation and the threats he made must be taken seriously, British foreign office minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News.

China's Foreign Ministry urged all parties to engage in dialogue and consultation and find a way to address the security concerns of all parties after Putin warned the West over what he described as "nuclear blackmail", according to Reuters.

Russia's mobilization was a predictable step that will prove extremely unpopular and underscores that the war is not going according to Moscow's plan, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

Podolyak said in a text message to Reuters that Putin was trying to shift the blame for starting an "unprovoked war" and Russia's worsening economic situation onto the West.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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