Ukraine conflict: Vladimir Putin insists he is not bluffing over nuclear threat as he announces partial military mobilisation

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial military mobilisation in Russia and that he is not bluffing over use of nuclear weapons.

Mr Putin warned the West that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory, saying: “It’s not a bluff.”

He accused the West in engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.

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And he added: “To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of Nato countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal.”

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Mr Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilisation, which is due to start on Wednesday.

He said: “We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience.”

The Russian leader said the decision to partially mobilise was “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.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has announced “partial mobilisation” in Russia “to defend the motherland"

The Russian stock market took a sharp downturn at the news, and there are reports of increases in sales of plane tickets in order to leave the country.

A pre-recorded interview with Russia's minister of defence, Sergey Shoigu confirmed that the partial mobilisation will involve those who have military experience - and that about 300,000 such people will be called up - a fraction of the 25 million Russia has.

In an update he added that reservists won’t be taken all at once but according to need and that students would not be used and that they should remain ‘calm’ and ‘keep going to class’.

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Mr Putin’s address to the nation comes a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming integral parts of Russia.

The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following recent Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.

The announcement today marks a change in stance for Russia, who until today had been claiming that its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine was going according to plan.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “President Putin’s breaking of his own promises to mobilise parts of his population and the illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine are an admission that his invasion is failing.

“He and his Defence Minister have sent tons of thousands of their own citizens to their death, ill equipped and badly let down.

"No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning the war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a pariah.”

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The UK's Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan has described Vladimir Putin's threat to the West that he has lots of weapons as "chilling", adding that the address was "more of Putin's lies"

On a series of TV interviews she described the announcement as a “worrying escalation”, She said : "It's a serious threat but it's one that's been made before.

"Some of the language there was quite concerning at the end and obviously we would urge for calm.

"It's something that we should take very seriously because, you know, we're not in control.

"I'm not sure he's in control either really. I mean, this is obviously an escalation and, of course, for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war."

The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following recent Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.

The referendums will start on Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas.