Putin’s TV speech is escalation of cornered president

According to him, we cannot separate the partial mobilization of 300,000reservists from the ‘referenda’ announced in four (partly) Russian-occupiedparts of Ukraine. “Reservists are constitutionally only allowed to be deployedon Russian territory,” he explains. And that is exactly what the plebiscitesare about: citizens in the four provinces must vote on joining Russia.

The result of the referendum, which is not representative because manyUkrainians have fled the areas, is not recognized in advance by Ukraine andinternationally. But if a majority of voters vote for annexation by Russia,the Kremlin will consider the areas Russian.

It is inevitable that the West will become even more involved in the> conflict.>> Mart de Kruif, former commander of the Land Forces

According to De Kruif, the partial mobilization and the expected annexationconstitute an “unattached escalation”, including for Ukraine’s neighboringcountries. “The Baltic states will feel threatened and NATO must respond tothat. It is inevitable that the West will become even more involved in theconflict.”

The retired general also expects it to take weeks, if not months, before theRussian reservists can get to work. “You have to train them, equip them, feedthem. And there must also be enough NCOs and officers to direct them. I don’tthink we’re going to see these people at the front until spring.”

Correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp:

“Russia was abuzz with rumors about what Putin was going to say. Many,especially young Russians, were afraid of a general mobilization, with allover 18s being drafted into the army. That fear has not completely disappearednow, although Putin has stresses that this is a partial mobilization.

A general mobilization would also not fit into the Kremlin’s narrative, whichalways says that there is no question of war, but a special military operationin which everything goes smoothly. As soon as you mention the word’mobilization’, you recognize: we are at war. Then it comes very close. Such apartial mobilization is a half-hearted compromise in that regard.”

The partial mobilization will also lead to unrest in Russia itself, expectsRussia expert Laura Starink. According to her, many Russians will try toescape, for example by leaving the country. Tens of thousands of people havealready done so in recent months, she says, mostly critics of the regime.”Often they go to Georgia and Turkey.”

According to Reuters news agency, direct flights to Turkish Istanbul andYerevan in Armenia sold out quickly after Putin’s speech. Also, the searches”How do I leaveRussia?” and”How do I break anarm?aretrending on Google. And according to a Russian lawyer, the telephoneline forinformation about the rights of military personnel called more than a thousandtimes this morning.

Nuclear Rhetoric

President Putin also used nuclear rhetoric in his speech. He accused the Westof “nuclear blackmail” and warned that Russia will not shy away from using”all available resources” if necessary in the eyes of the Kremlin. “That’s nota bluff,” he added.

Review the appropriate portion of the speech:

Putin on nuclear weapons: ‘I’m not bluffing’

Putin’s words seem like a veiled reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, andthis is not the first time. But these statements in the context of announcedreferendums and partial mobilization have a different meaning, says LaurienCrump, expert on Eastern Europe and international relations.

“We see a president here who is cornered,” says the researcher, who isaffiliated with Utrecht University. According to her, Putin will not besatisfied if he comes out of the war with less than what he started with.

If the four areas with ‘referenda’ will soon belong to Russia in the eyes ofthe Kremlin, he will therefore want to defend them at all costs, she says. “Hewill not just pull out a nuclear weapon, but he also does not want to loseface. If there is fighting in areas that the Kremlin will soon consider to beRussian, Moscow sees this as an infringement of Russia’s right to exist.option will be on the table.”