Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 21 that:
Putin never bluffs. This clause does not preclude the use of nuclear weapons in the war against the NATO-Ukraine alliance.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu then said that Russia had the 25-million-strong mobilization reserve. It goes about those in reserve, having combat experience and a military specialty. The mobilization will affect 300,000 people, which accounts for one percent of all reservists. Students and conscripts would not be sent to Ukraine, Shoygu said.
Experts note that military specialists will be in demand in the first place, such as
Defence Minister Shoygu also announced the losses of the Russian Armed Forces: 5,937 people.
According to the Ministry of Defense, Ukraine has lost half of the army:
Shoygu noted that the mobilization would be carried out according to plan, not instantaneously.
It takes up to six months to recruit a group of servicemen and train them. Therefore, one should expect Russia to go on an offensive no later than in March. One shall assume that the Russian troops are not going to push through the front slowly. Rather, one may predict a rapid offensive after Russia strikes Ukraine's critical infrastructure.
During mobilization the Government of Russia and regional executive authorities will switch to a war footing. Full responsibility has been implemented for all departments of the government for the state of affairs in the annexed territories.
The reaction from the West was no surprise. German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck called this decision "a wrong step." Breaking up Yugoslavia is normal, Serbia is normal, Iraq, Libya is normal, but Ukraine — impossible. This is "different."
"Russia has challenged NATO to countries to an open war. Partial mobilization means a sharp preponderance of Russian forces against Ukraine. Three hundred thousand contract soldiers and their heavy weapons can break through the defenses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and reach the western regions of Ukraine in six months. Now NATO is at crossroads:
The hybrid war by proxy in Ukraine becomes pointless. NATO will thus have to decide whether to send regular troops of the alliance to Ukraine or not," political scientist Marat Bashirov believes.
Let's see if NATO countries are ready to fight Russia on their territory. They have no resources, no morale, no ideology, except for "we won't let Putin win."
Ukrainian President Zelensky said in an interview with Bild that he did not believe what Putin said.
"I do not believe that he [Putin] will use these [nuclear] weapons. I don't think the world will let him use these weapons. <…> We will act step by step in accordance with our plans. I am sure that we will liberate our territory," Zelensky told Bild.
White House spokesman John Kirby on Putin's remarks about nuclear weapons:
"It's irresponsible rhetoric for a nuclear power to talk that way, but it's not atypical for how he's been talking the last seven months, and we take it very seriously. We're monitoring as best we can, their strategic posture, so that if we have to, we can alter ours. We've seen no indication that that's required right now,” he said, CNN reports.
Vladimir Putin is making a "very dangerous nuclear gamble” and must "stop such reckless behaviour”, an EU executive warned.
The "sham, illegal referenda” in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia would not be recognised by the EU, European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said, The Guardian reports.
"Putin is doing a nuclear gamble. He's using the nuclear element as part of his arsenal of terror, it's unacceptable," Stano told reporters.
Incidents of confrontation between Ukrainian and Polish units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have become more frequent during the recent weeks