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On September 21st, Putin announced a “partial mobilization” composed of Russian reservists who will be engaged on the Russian territory, which is threatened by the European uptight attitude to “destroy” the Russian territory and its strength. In his speech, Putin shifted the meaning of the war from a “special military operation” to an existential operation that will depend on Russian unity and its strength. These would have been the words used by Putin in a Russian televised address. (you can read more about it in this article Russia says 300,000 reservists are to be mobilized.
Since the beginning of the conflict, a lot of things have changed. After some months where Russia seemed to have control over several parts of Ukraine, this month has been horrible for the Russian army which has lost its foot in a number of Ukrainian territories. Ukraine‘s offensive reconquered 3,000 km of territory around the city of Kharkiv and its forces have also retaken territory in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine. In total, Ukrainian forces regained 8,000 km from Russian control this last that still controls 20% of the Ukrainian territory, especially the Donbas region and the south of the country.
At the same time in line with what is happening in Ukraine, Russia changed its main war target which at the beginning of the invasion in February 2022 was the “demilitarization” of Ukraine, now resized to the annexation of the Ukrainian territories occupied. The latter was attempted with the “Referendum” call for Ukraine to express their will for being part of the Russian Federation. The “Referendum” has been taking place in the separatist regions of Lugansk and Donetsk and the occupied city of Kherson e Zaporizhzhia and the people can vote until the 27th of September.
Indeed the territory regained by Ukrainian forces has forced Russia to look inside its territory for new forces which could join the Russian efforts in Ukraine so that Russia will be able to defend what it thinks will become Russian territory after the “Referendum“. In general, the losses from Ukraine and Russia have been relevant in their deployments, respectively of 9,000 and 15,000 thousand and more than 5,700 among the civilians, but what it is important to outline is that according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the decree signed by the Russian President will bring 300,000 new soldiers ready to defend the “country”.
Putin’s announcement could not pass unnoticed. After he signed the “partial mobilization” in several parts of the Russian territory there have been protests. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, more people have been arrested and then others in Irkutsk and other Siberian cities where dozens have been held. The protests have not been the only response because a lot of people thought about how they could escape this situation looking for an answer on “Google” or buying a flight.
At the international level, the tensions seem they are not de-escalating due to: the G7 and Ukraine commenting against the attempted “Referendum” over the Ukrainian occupied territories, Stoltenberg being favourable to support more Ukraine, and the West’s thinking to go further with the sanctions. Putin from his side does not want to come back without results and, after some hesitations, he is looking to regain solidity at the international level using the nuclear threat to the West.
The partial mobilization does not seek to continue the war in Ukraine but to consolidate the territories Russia conquered so far. Putin is sure the “Referendum” will give him new territories, and in this scenario, the new forces will be stationed in those regions which will be part of the Russian Federation. Once these regions become parts of the Russian Federation the new territory will not only be “defended” by the Russian army but also under its nuclear umbrella.
Will the “Referendum” be recognized by the West? How much should the nuclear threat concern the International Community?