President Joe Biden forcefully condemned the Kremlin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and urged the world to stand firm behind efforts to repel the aggression, telling the United Nations that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “reckless” in issuing a veiled threat about using his nuclear arsenal.
Russia’s attacks on schools, hospitals and rail stations “should make your blood run cold,” Biden said Wednesday at the United Nations hours after Putin tried to boost Russia’s flagging fortunes in Ukraine by authorizing a partial mobilization of reservists.
“A permanent member of the UN Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the UN charter,” Biden told the body’s General Assembly in New York.
In a televised address announcing Russia’s first call-up of reservists since World War II, Putin accused the West of nuclear blackmail and said his government will use all its means to protect the country.
“Those who are attempting to blackmail us with nuclear weapons must be aware that the prevailing winds may also turn towards their side,” Putin said.
Biden accused him of showing “reckless disregard” for Russia’s responsibilities as a signer of the nonproliferation treaty, and underlined that the UN’s core values are imperiled if it doesn’t stand up to Putin.
“You cannot seize a nation’s territory by force,” Biden said. “Each of us in this body … must be clear, firm and unwavering in our resolve.”
►Britain is sending Ukraine $500 million through the World Bank to help it purchase more natural gas, British Prime Minister Liz Truss said. Ukraine has already stored enough for about six months.
►Russian proxies in Donetsk province, part of the Donbas region that Russia seeks to claim, have conscripted up to 500 steel plant workers in Donetsk, essentially shutting down two steel plants, Ukrainian officials said.
TURNING POINT IN THE WAR?As Russia admits defeat in Kharkiv, Ukraine regains ground, confidence
Putin announces ‘partial’ military mobilization
Putin announced a partial military mobilization in a televised address to his nation Wednesday Ukraine’s counteroffensive continued to push his invading troops back towards the Russian border.
Putin’s plan, which starts by calling up reservists who previously served in the army, was unveiled hours after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming permanent parts of Russia.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said 300,000 people – a little more than 1% of the 25 million reserves who fit the description – would be called up for military service.
Putin had previously avoided the callups in his effort to minimize the effects of the war – a term he rejects in favor of “special military operation” – on the Russian population. But the conflict he had hoped would be completed in weeks has dragged on for seven months little sign of ending soon.
He blamed the escalation on the West, telling his people the US and its allies were attempting to break Russia “into an array of fatally warring regions and areas.”
What is partial mobilization?
Putin said the partial mobilization means only Russians who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription. Initially those brought back into the military will include specialists and others with “relevant experience,” Putin said.
He said that would be enough to overcome “the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories.”
‘NUCLEAR TERRORISM’:Ukraine warns of Russia’s actions after strike near plant
Did Putin threaten nuclear war?
Putin accused the West of nuclear blackmail, blaming Ukraine and its allies for the bombings near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine has blamed Russia for the bombings, which international regulators warned could trigger a nuclear disaster. Putin also accused leading NATO countries of suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used against Russia.
“I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and … to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said. “It’s not a bluff.”
Democratic youth movement in Russia protests war
Russia’s Vesna democratic youth movement called for protests across the nation in response to Putin’s escalation of the war. The group urged frontline military units to refuse to participate in the ‘special operation’ or surrender as soon as possible. The website, difficult to reach from the US, provides a hotline for soldiers looking for a way out.
“You don’t have to die for Putin,” the group said in a statement. “You are needed in Russia by those who love you. For the authorities, you are just cannon fodder, where you will be squandered without any meaning or purpose.”
When will the referendum voting take place?
The referendum voting will start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. Referendums have been discussed for weeks, but voting had not been expected until November. Ukraine’s military gains likely compelled the Kremlin to move up the voting as an excuse to step up its military effort in those regions.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by Putin, said successful referendums would result in “irreversible” redrawn borders. Moscow, he warned, could use “any means” to defend them.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the voting as “noise” and thanked Ukraine’s allies for condemning the votes. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia would manipulate “sham” results to annex the land.
“Let me be clear, if this does transpire, the United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to any allegedly annexed parts of Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
After voting, talks will be ‘impossible,’ Russian lawmaker says
Any prospects for talks with Ukraine after the Donbas region votes to join Russia will be impossible, the Russian lower parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairman said. Leonid Slutsky said the negotiation process had passed the point of no return.
“Kyiv politicians said earlier that surrender was the only possible development” that could end the fighting, he said. “We were ready for talks, but Kyiv violated all the agreements.”
Russia cracking down on deserters
Russia’s lower house of parliament voted this week to toughen laws against desertion, surrender and looting by Russian troops. Lawmakers also voted to introduce possible 10-year prison terms for soldiers refusing to fight. The laws are expected to win the approval of the upper house and Putin.