Weakness and despair. The European Union and the United Kingdom have charged against the decision of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to decree what he has called a “partial mobilization” in Russia for the Ukraine war. With more and more losses on the ground and an increasingly disastrous campaign in the neighboring country, the head of the Kremlin tries to unravel the situation by intensifying his offensive. The mobilization and loud nuclear threats of the Russian leader against the West have been accompanied by the calling of “referendums” in the occupied Ukrainian territories by Kremlin forces to annex them to Russia. These decisions are another sign of “desperation” and “weakness”, according to the EU and the UK, which have charged against Putin’s decision.
“We condemn Russia’s actions and agree that its calls to mobilize parts of the population are a sign of weakness,” say European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Liz Truss. in a joint statement issued after the meeting of the leaders in New York, during the United Nations General Assembly, in which they stress that they will maintain support for Ukraine in its fight “as long as necessary”. “The Russian invasion is failing,” added Von der Leyen on social media.
The High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, has warned of the risk posed by Putin’s nuclear threat. “World peace is in danger”, he has remarked on the social network Twitter. “Putin’s announcement of fake referendums, partial military mobilization and nuclear blackmail are a serious escalation. Threatening nuclear weapons is unacceptable and a real danger to all. The international community must unite to prevent this type of action”, said the head of European diplomacy.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace has remarked that the mobilization of troops is further proof of Putin’s admission that his invasion “is failing”. “[Putin] and his defense minister have sent dozens of their own citizens to their deaths, poorly equipped and misdirected,” Wallace said in a statement. “No threat or propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning the war, that the international community is united, and that Russia is becoming a global pariah,” he added.
On Tuesday, when the possibility of a mobilization and the hasty holding of pseudo-referendums began to be aired in Russia, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, pointed out that Moscow’s plans to hold such votes and the possibility of mobilizing additional forces they are “the sign of Russian failure”. An argument that the US ambassador in kyiv, Bridget Brink, repeated this Wednesday. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, the government has announced that it will increase its military preparation in response to the mobilization announced by Putin.
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Germany has also stressed that the measure put in place by Putin means it is unsuccessful in Ukraine, according to a foreign ministry spokesman, who has stressed that “fake referendums” will never be recognised. A community spokesman has stated that, however the vote turns out in the regions under Russian occupation, for the Union they will legitimately continue to be Ukrainian territory because it only accepts internationally recognized borders, such as the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow was illegally annexed in 2014 with another illegal referendum.
Some analysts have perceived the hasty call for these votes as an illusory formula for Putin to secure the ground and try to raise his threat on the Ukrainian counteroffensive. They believe that the annexation could serve the Kremlin to claim that the supply of weapons by NATO countries to kyiv is an attack against Russia. On Tuesday, the Atlantic Alliance already accused Russia to intensify the war in Ukraine with the calling of pseudo referendums, which he interpreted as a “new escalation in Putin’s war” and demanded more support for Ukraine.
Putin has called this Wednesday for a “partial mobilization” in Russia in which, according to the Russian leader, only people with military training (without specifying whether it is having done military service) or in the reserve will be called up. The decree he has signed is broader and actually gives the regional and local officials dealing with it a wide berth to call up.
Putin’s televised speech, broadcast this Wednesday morning —prerecorded—, has captured the EU’s senior leadership and the heads of state of a good number of European countries in New York, where the United Nations General Assembly is being held , probably sleeping, for a time difference.
From the United States, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, has stressed that in the face of nuclear threats to the West and the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine, the EU’s support for kyiv will remain firm. “The Kremlin announces the mobilization… while in the United Nations General Assembly the countries work for cooperation, security and prosperity,” he has said on Twitter. “In this war there is only one aggressor, Russia, and one victim, Ukraine,” added Michel.
The general secretary of the Council of Europe (which brings together 46 nations and of which, until recently, Russia was also a member), Marija Pejčinović Burić, has criticized the organization of the votes for annexation to Russia. “The calls referendums announced in the Ukrainian territories that are occupied by Russian forces is a new escalation of the conflict and the continued violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said in a statement. “Such referendumscarried out at gunpoint by the occupying forces and without respecting basic democratic principles, cannot be accepted or recognized”, he added.