The essentials in brief:
- Putin orders “partial mobilization” and announces possible annexations
- Ukrainian President reacts calmly to Russian voting plans
- EU chief diplomat Borrell threatens the Kremlin with further sanctions
- The US is helping Ukraine to solve war crimes
In the West, the failures in the Russian war of aggression are seen as the reason for “partial mobilization”. Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the decisions made by President Vladimir Putin and his government as an “act of desperation”. “Russia cannot win this criminal war,” said Scholz in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Putin “completely underestimated the situation from the start,” said Scholz, referring to “the resistance and the will to resist on the part of the Ukrainians” and “the unity and determination” of the friends of Ukraine.
According to the EU, too, Putin’s announcements are a sign of Putin’s desperation. The sham referendums and the partial mobilization are “further proof that Putin is not interested in peace but in escalating his war of aggression,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. In addition, the commission accused Russia’s president of playing a very dangerous nuclear game (“nuclear gamble”). Putin uses “the nuclear element as a part
his terror arsenal.” That is unacceptable. The international community must put pressure on him to “stop this ruthless behavior.”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace saw the “partial mobilization” as a sign that Putin’s “invasion was failing.” Along with his defense minister, the Russian president sent tens of thousands of citizens to their deaths, Wallace said. “Sham referendums and mobilizations are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” said US Ambassador to Kyiv Bridget Brink. “The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to allegedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary.”
Even China, to which Russia recently made rapprochement, “called on all relevant parties to reach a ceasefire through dialogue and consultation.” A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said China has always advocated “the sovereign and territorial integrity of all countries”.
Russia’s neighboring country and EU member Latvia does not want to grant refuge to Russians fleeing “partial mobilization”. This was announced by Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics on Twitter. He cites security reasons for this. Rinkevics: “We must not give in to his blackmail and must support Ukraine as much as we can.”
Putin announces “partial mobilization” in Russia
Barely seven months after the start of the war against Ukraine, Russia has announced a “partial mobilization” of Russians of military age – the first since World War II. He supports the defense ministry’s proposal to mobilize reservists who have already served and have “relevant experience,” Putin said in a televised address. The corresponding decree has been signed and mobilization will begin on Wednesday. According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 reservists are to be mobilized against Ukraine.
The announcement was linked to unsubstantiated allegations against the West. Putin, for example, claimed that the West did not want peace between Ukraine and Russia, but instead wanted to “weaken, divide and destroy” Russia. “It is in our historical tradition, in the destiny of our people, to stop those who strive for world domination, who threaten our motherland, our homeland, with dismemberment and oppression.” Russia will use all “available means” to protect its territory. “It’s not a bluff”. Putin also threatened to use nuclear weapons. Defense Minister Shoigu admitted that his country was fighting “not so much against Ukraine, but against the West.”
At the same time, the Kremlin chief announced the possible annexation of Ukrainian territories with the help of “referendums” in the occupied territories. “We support the decision made by the majority of citizens in the People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, in the Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts,” Putin said. Sham referendums on accession to Russia are to take place as early as Friday.
In these areas of eastern Ukraine, Russia wants to hold so-called referendums
Ukraine demonstratively left
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the announced partial mobilization in Russia shows that Moscow has problems with its military personnel. “We already know that they mobilized cadets, guys who couldn’t fight. These cadets fell. They couldn’t even finish their training,” Selesnkyj said in an interview with “Bild” (online edition). They came to Ukraine to die. The Russian president needs “an army worth millions,” but sees “that his units are simply running away,” Zelenskyy said. Putin wants to “drown Ukraine in blood, but also in the blood of his own soldiers.”
According to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak, the announced “partial mobilization” shows that the war is not going according to plan for Russia. The step was to be expected. The other statements by the Russian President are rhetorical. The aim is to hold the West responsible for the war and the deteriorating economic situation in Russia.
The Ukrainian government also reacted demonstratively calm to the announcement of “referendums” on the annexation of occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. “Our position does not change due to noise or any announcements,” Selesnkyj said in his video speech on Tuesday evening. “We are defending Ukraine, we are liberating our country and most importantly we are not showing any weakness.”
The simultaneous referendums without any controls amount to a quick union with Russia and are seen as the Kremlin’s reaction to the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the east of the country. In 2014, Russia similarly annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has condemned the announced votes as a “mockery” of Ukraine and the United Nations. The renewed provocation should not result in a withdrawal from support for Ukraine for fear of a further escalation of the conflict, the Greens politician warned on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “The arms deliveries will continue because it saves lives,” added Baerbock.
According to British military experts, the Kremlin wants to forestall a counterattack by Kyiv with the planned mock referendums. That’s according to the daily intelligence update from the London Ministry of Defence. “This rush is probably driven by fears of an imminent attack and the expectation of greater security after formal incorporation into Russia,” it said.
EU is considering further sanctions
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has threatened the Russian leadership with further sanctions. These illegal votes could not be seen as an expression of the free will of the people living in these regions under constant military threat and intimidation from Russia, Borrell wrote in a statement. Russia and everyone involved in this and other violations of international law must be held accountable. The results of the referenda would not be recognized by the EU, he explained.
Raid on Russian oligarchs for violating sanctions
With a large-scale raid involving around 250 officers, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the public prosecutor’s office in Germany took action against a Russian citizen and four other suspects. The investigators said it was about the initial suspicion of a violation of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act. A total of 24 objects would be searched. The investigators did not want to provide information on the identity of the accused Russian. According to information from the magazine “Spiegel” and the Bavarian Radio, it is the billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is said to be a supporter of the Russian President.
According to the public prosecutor, he is said to have had his property in Upper Bavaria guarded by a security company even after he was included on the EU sanctions list at the end of February. By paying, he violated the prohibition on disposing of frozen funds.
US assistance in solving war crimes
The governments in Washington and Kyiv want to cooperate more closely in solving war crimes in Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia. US Attorney General Merrick Garland and Ukraine’s Attorney General Andriy Kostin signed a memorandum of understanding in Washington, the US Department of Justice announced. The US wants to assist Ukraine in identifying, arresting and prosecuting people involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine, Garland said. It is about giving the victims a certain amount of justice, Kostin emphasized.
cwo/sti/se/gri (dpa, rtr, afp, ap)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.