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In The News

“This Is Not A Bluff” — Putin Calls For Mobilization Of 300,000 Reservists

Photo of young Russian conscripts departing for their military service with the Russian Army

Russian conscripts departing for their military service with the Russian Army

Anna Akage, Chloé Touchard, Meike Eijsberg and Bertrand Hauger

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially addressed the nation early Tuesday to announce the “partial mobilization” of Russian forces that will see military reservists sent to Ukraine to defend “the territorial integrity of our motherland.”

The decision marks a major escalation of the war Putin launched seven months ago, which until now he has tried to downplay domestically as a “special military operation.” The mobilization comes as Ukraine troops have made major advances this month, and follows Tuesday’s announcement of referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine that are expected to lead to their annexation as part of Russia.

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In the highly anticipated speech, Putin restated his claim that Russia is fighting against “neo-Nazis” who have seized power in Ukraine, and made allusion to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. “We will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” the Russian president said, adding: "This is not a bluff."

In terms of the impact inside Russia, Putin again tried to quell possible public opposition. "I repeat, we are talking about partial mobilization, i.e., only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be called up for military service, especially those who have served in the Armed Forces and have certain military professions and relevant experience," Putin said in his address.

He added that military registration and enlistment will start immediately, ordering regional governors to provide all necessary assistance to the work of the military registration and enlistment offices.

Later, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the goal of the mobilization is 300,000 recruits. Although the mobilization will affect those who have served in the army, it will not affect students and conscripts, the minister added.

Mobilization, Shoigu explained, is being carried out to ensure control over the already liberated territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, as well as parts of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. As expected, the president promised the recruits to serve on Russian territory, which in the Kremlin’s view will soon include the occupied Ukrainian regions that will be annexed as part of Russia thanks to upcoming referendums announced Tuesday.

Reports Of Men Fleeing Russia Amid Fears Mobilization Will Lead To Nationwide Draft

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sept. 21


As part of the mobilization of new troops, restrictions on the movement of conscripts within the regions and abroad came into force. That in turn prompted reports, in the first minutes after Putin's speech, of all the tickets for flights out of Russia to Istanbul and Yerevan, Baku, and Tashkent being sold out.

Meanwhile, the Russian civic organization Vesna, together with the Navalny Foundation, announced a rally against mobilization at 7 p.m. Tuesday across all major Russian cities. Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny himself, appearing in court via video-conference, said the mobilization “will result in a massive tragedy, in a massive amount of deaths,” the Kyiv Post reports.

Mediazone reports that Duma deputy Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Defense Committee, said that graduates of military education departments could be subject to mobilization - "if their military professions are in demand. The newspaper also quotes lawyer Pavel Chikov, who says that this mobilization is not partial, but is being called so to reassure citizens.

"Shoigu announced the goal of 300,000 people. If more is needed, the decree allows for the mobilization of an unlimited number of persons liable for military service, Chikov added.

“The law imposes a duty on employers to assist the military commissariats in mobilization work."

In Ukraine, Mykhailo Podolyak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, was the first to comment on Putin's words. "Nothing has changed for Ukraine, we have fought and continue to fight for our country. But this statement by Putin will change everything for Russia, it is an indicator of weakness and panic, to announce mobilization on the 210th day of a three-day war," Podolyak said on the air of Popular Politics.

Ukraine And World Say Putin’s Move A Sign Of “Weakness” And “Panic”

Putin's Sept. 21 address

Adrien Fillon/ZUMA

Ukrainian government officials reacted quickly after Vladimir Putin's speech announcing partial military mobilization in Russia.

"The war is clearly not going according to Russia's scenario and therefore requires Putin to make extremely unpopular decisions to mobilize and severely restrict the rights of people", said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. “It is an indicator of weakness and panic , to announce mobilization on the 210th day of a three-day war."

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reacted in a Telegram message: “The tyrant finally launched the processes that will bury him in his country [...]. The civilized world must finally understand that evil must be destroyed completely, and not talk about some illusory ‘peace negotiations,'" he wrote.

Other countries have reacted to the announcement on Wednesday morning. Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas announced on Twitter that the country's "Rapid Reaction force is being put on high alert".

Latvia officials said they would not provide refuge for Russians fleeing the mobilization, citing security concerns.

Western government officials have reacted saying that Putin's decision showed the "failing" of his invasion. "No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war," said British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, calling Russia a "global pariah."

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also reacted to the announcement of the referendums to annex land from Ukraine as having “no legitimacy” and called the international community to “condemn this blatant violation of international law.”

UN General Assembly Lineup Of World Leaders Condemning Russia’s Invasion

At the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20

Bruce Cotler/ZUMA

After three years of world leaders speaking to each other via video calls due to the global pandemic, the 193 UN member countries are finally back together in person for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be the only leader to speak by video.

UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke on Tuesday and said: “We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction,” he said, adding that “our world is in peril — and paralyzed” by a number of old and new conflicts.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine took center stage. Germany and France condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “imperialism.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there was “no justification whatsoever” for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. “This is imperialism, plain and simple,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech Wednesday is expected to focus on Ukraine. Qatar, Senegal and Turkey called for immediate peace talks, and Lithuania urged the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to punish Moscow’s atrocities.

Polish President Andrzej Duda also reiterated his support for Ukraine and its refugees, many of which have now built “permanent homes” in Poland according to Duda. He said: “I’m convinced that Ukraine will prevail, that the refugees will return to their homes.”

German Police Storm Estate Believed To Belong To Russian Oligarch Alisher Usmanov

German police forces raiding the house of a Russian citizen suspected of violating sanctions, whom news reports identify as oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Matthias Balk/dpa/ZUMA

German police conducted raids that targeted a Russian citizen suspected of violating sanctions, whom news reports identify as oligarch Alisher Usmanov. According to the prosecutor, the Russian national is suspected of having tasked a security company with observing properties in Upper Bavaria financially linked to him even after he was added to the European Union sanctions list. The payment of that security firm is thought to have flouted a ban on the use of frozen funds.

The Russian citizen is said to be oligarch Usmanov, but this is not confirmed. Usmanov was added to he Western sanctions list in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

His net worth is estimated to be $14.6 billion, according to Forbes.

McDonald's Reopens In Kyiv, Russia’s “Rebranded” Fast Food Solve Fries Shortage

File photo of a McDonald's outlet in Kyiv

Jerzy Dabrowski/ONS/ZUMA

Reuters reports three Kyiv McDonald's restaurants reopened in Kyiv for the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion, a sign of a return to normalcy in Ukraine’s capital.

Although queues of customers Tuesday were only allowed to pick up their orders, McDonald's said it planned to re-open more outlets in Kyiv and western Ukraine and welcome clients inside their restaurants in the coming months.

Meanwhile in Russia, the chain of American fast-food restaurants was one of the many international brands that exited the country over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Now the McDonald’s replacement brand Vkusno & tochka said it finally resolved its potato shortage issues that had left many outlets without French fries over the summer.

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