Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week called for “partial mobilization” of Russia’s population to support the war in Ukraine, at a time when a sudden counteroffensive from Kyiv has recaptured thousands of square miles of territory and put Moscow on the backfoot. Experts say Russia’s forces have been significantly depleted.
Putin is trying to raise the stakes in Ukraine. The announcement would see 300,000 reservists called up, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“We are preparing proposals for new citizens of the Russian Federation who have Russian citizenship for less than 10 years to do compulsory military service for a year for people from Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” council member Kirill Kabanov wrote on Telegram Thursday.
“Refusal to perform military duty should entail the deprivation of Russian citizenship not only for a person liable for military service, but also for members of his family,” he added.
Images and videos show police cracking down on demonstrators in multiple cities,with footage showing several protesters at a demonstration in central Moscow being carried away by the police and authorities in St. Petersburg attempting to contain a crowd chanting “no mobilization” outside Isakiivskiy Cathedral.
Putin also raised the specter of nuclear weapons in his address, saying he would use “all the means at our disposal,” if he deemed the “territorial integrity” of Russia to be jeopardized. He also endorsed referendum on joining Russia that Russian-appointed leaders in four occupied regions of Ukraine announced they would hold this week.