Putin says West wants to destroy Russia

The Russian President says 'our aim is to liberate the Donbas'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had signed a decree on partial mobilisation beginning on Wednesday, saying he was defending Russian territories and that the West wanted to destroy the country.

“To protect homeland, its sovereignty (…), I consider it necessary to support the decision of the General Staff on partial mobilisation,” he said.

"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we use all available means to protect our people - this is not a bluff."

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin restated his aim was to "liberate" east Ukraine's Donbas industrial heartland region and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the "yoke" of Ukraine.

Putin said the West had engaged in nuclear blackmail, but Russia had "lots of weapons to reply" and that he was not bluffing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes an address, dedicated to a military conflict with Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes an address, dedicated to a military conflict with Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia

"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we use all available means to protect our people - this is not a bluff."

Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas region Moscow partially occupied in 2014, to be independent states. Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine held by Russian forces to be illegally occupied.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin's decree on partial mobilisation would see 300,000 additional personnel called up to serve in Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

In an interview with Russian state television, Shoigu said that students and those who served as conscripts would not be called up, and that the majority of Russia's millions-strong reserves would not be drafted.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says Russia's mobilisation was a predictable step that will prove extremely unpopular and underscores that the war is not going according to Moscow's plan.

Podolyak said in a text message to Reuters that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to shift the blame for starting an "unprovoked war" and Russia's worsening economic situation onto the West.

Reacting to the address Robert Fox, Defence Editor at the Evening Standard, told Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster on GB News that Putin's comments were "a last gasp".

"It's a gambler's throw, and it's a desperate throw, because he's announced a partial - whatever a partial - national mobilisation of forces, and that other line "we're going to liberate Donbas." What have they been trying to do?

"This is a loser's throw.

"He's very worried about the pressure coming from the more extreme people, people he invented almost to support him when he took over Crimea.

"He's trying to rally the nation.

"He's held off this for so long. This is a last gasp."