“Our country also has various means of destruction and in some components are more modern than NATO countries, and if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we certainly have at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.” Will use all means,” Putin said in a speech on Wednesday, indicating a possible new chapter in the months-long conflict.
Addressing the potential for increased and increased use of nuclear weapons, Putin said, “Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should be aware that the prevailing winds may turn in their own direction.”
The Russian leader said it was necessary to conduct a “partial mobilization” in the country “in order to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity”, and those efforts would begin on Wednesday, when his decree had already been signed.
He said mobilization would mean civilians who are in reserve and those with military experience would be subject to recruitment.
The announcement comes as Russia faces manpower shortages and follows an amendment to Russia’s law on military service made on Tuesday that increases penalties for resistance related to military service or mobilization or martial law. Forces to violate official military orders during the period. ,
“They are already saying straight away that they were able to split the Soviet Union in 1991 and now the time has come for Russia to break up into several regions and regions that are mortally hostile to each other,” he said. Told.
Referendum, Which Putin endorsed during his speech on Wednesday could pave the way for Russian annexation of the regions, allowing Moscow to frame the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive there as an attack on Russia, allowing Moscow to You will find an excuse to increase your military response.
As a coordinated declaration, Russian-appointed leaders in the territories occupied by Kherson and Zaporizhzhya and the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic all said they planned to hold “votes” beginning on 23 September. .
The four regions that have announced their referendum plans together make up about 18% of Ukraine’s territory. Russia does not fully control any of these four.
The expected referendum, which runs contrary to international law upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty, has been announced as world leaders descend on New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where the war and its effects are already looming large. were headed towards.
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia has called for support from the two “people’s republics” and the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya for the referendum and “everything to ensure safe conditions for the people to express their will”. promised to do.
likely to increase
The announcements had already received swift support from Russian politicians. Former Russian president and deputy chairman of Russia’s National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has publicly supported the referendum in the self-declared Donbass republics, saying it would have “great importance” for the “systemic security” of residents.
“Encroachment on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all the forces of self-defense,” Medvedev said on his Telegram channel in a clear allusion to the possibility of a military escalation.
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You’ll change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Biden said, adding that America’s response to such actions would be “consequential.”
The bill stipulates a prison term of up to 15 years for a period of mobilization or martial law, for resistance related to military service or for violating an official military order, involving violence or the threat of its use.
Josh Pennington, Ulyana Pavlova and CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Anna Chernova and Tim Lister contributed to this report.