World Leaders Respond to Putin’s Mobilization Announcement
By Staff, Agencies
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia's first mobilization since World War Two and warned that Moscow would defend itself with the might of all its vast arsenal if faced with a nuclear threat from the West.
Putin's speech was a worrying escalation and the threats he made in it must be taken seriously, British foreign office minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News.
"Clearly, 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. This is obviously an escalation," Keegan said.
"It is chilling ... It's a serious threat, but one that has been made before," she told the BBC in a separate interview.
Putin restated his objective was to "liberate" eastern Ukraine's Donbas industrial heartland and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the "yoke" of Ukraine.
For his part, British defense minister Ben Wallace said on Wednesday a mobilization of troops by Russia in Ukraine conflict was an admission by Putin that "his invasion is failing".
"[Putin] and his Defense Minister have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill equipped and badly led," Wallace said in a statement.
"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."
The US ambassador in Ukraine says the partial mobilization is a sign of “weakness”.
“Sham referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” Bridget Brink wrote in a Twitter message.
“The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to purportedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she said.
Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said it was “another bad and wrong step from Russia, which of course we will discuss and consult on politically regarding how to respond”.
The government’s spokesperson also said that the “Russian sham referendums in Ukraine will never be recognized”.
The German chancellor sees in Russia’s partial military mobilization signs that Moscow’s attack on Ukraine is not successful, a government spokesperson said.
Regarding Putin’s plans for four occupied regions to hold referendums in the coming days on joining Russia, the spokesperson said that Russian “sham referendums” would never be recognized.
The European Union’s executive said Putin’s partial mobilization decree proved that the Russian president was “in desperation” and only seeking to escalate the crisis.
“This is just another proof that Putin is not interested in peace, that he’s interested in escalating this war of aggression,” a foreign policy spokesman for the European Commission, Peter Stano, told a news conference.
“This is also yet another sign of his desperation with how his aggression is going against Ukraine…he is only interested in further advancing and continuing his destructive war, which has had already so many bad consequences worldwide.”
Stano also said that Putin is waging a “very dangerous nuclear gamble”.
China’s foreign ministry urged all parties to engage in dialogue and consultation and find a way to address the security concerns of all parties after Putin warned the West over what he described as “nuclear blackmail”.
China’s position on Ukraine is consistent and clear, Wang Wenbin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular media briefing on Wednesday.