Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization in Russia to “fully adequate to 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.” He requires citizens to join the war effort in Ukraine. The total number of reservists to be called up could be as high as 300,000, officials said. Many Russians try to fly from the country.
The statement also comes one day after Russia announced it intends to hold elections in Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine. The referendums are set to start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.Putin has threatened the West not to interfere. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned these efforts. US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said the “sham referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness [and] of Russian failure.” “No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah,” he added.” Several countries including China, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia, and Lithuania issued statements condemning Putin’s statements. “The reports about partial mobilisation have been confirmed, Russia will attempt to destroy Ukraine and grab some of its territory. We can’t allow for that,”, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the target of broad international criticism at the U.N. General Assembly.