Putin threatens to use nuclear arsenal to 'protect Russia'

i24NEWS - AFP

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, on July 18, 2022.
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via APRussia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, on July 18, 2022.

Putin accused the West of seeking to "destroy” Russia

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced “partial mobilization” that will start on Wednesday and threatened to use the country's "vast nuclear arsenal" to respond to the West's "nuclear blackmail." 

Putin accused the West of seeking to “destroy” Russia and pushing Ukraine to invade the country’s territory. 

"I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Defense Ministry and of the General Staff to conduct partial mobilization in the Russian Federation," Putin said during a televised address to the nation that was initially expected to be broadcasted Tuesday evening shortly after the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics of Donbas announced their plans to hold annexation referendums on September 23-27.

A relevant decree has already been signed and published on the Kremlin website which collapsed shortly after the announcement. 

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During his address Putin stressed that Russia will use all available means, including its "vast nuclear arsenal" to protect its territory.

"When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff," Putin stressed, adding that the West aims to "weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country.” 

Following Putin’s address, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on state television that Russia would mobilize 300,000 reservists, noting that this is only a fraction of Russia's troops available to be called up.

He said that 5,937 Russian soldiers died in Ukraine since the February military intervention, in a first admission of military losses from Moscow since late March. 

"Our losses for today are 5,937 dead," Shoigu said, adding that Russia is "fighting not so much Ukraine as the collective West" in Ukraine. 

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