AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov
- A senior Ukrainian official mocked Russia after Putin announced partial military mobilization.
- “Everything is still according to the plan, right?” Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said.
- Putin gave a rare televised address on Wednesday, where he announced he was calling up reservists.
A senior Ukrainian official took a jab at Russia over its many battlefield failures in his country after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a threatening speech where he announced plans for partial military mobilization.
“210th day of the ‘three-day war’. Russians who demanded the destruction of [Ukraine] ended up getting: 1. Mobilization. 2. Closed borders, blocking of bank accounts. 3. Prison for desertion,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tweeted on Wednesday.
He continued: “Everything is still according to the plan, right? Life has a great sense of humor.”
—Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) September 21, 2022
In a rare televised address on Wednesday, Putin called for the “partial mobilization” of hundreds of thousands of Russia’s military reservists — a move he said would start immediately and one that would see reservists gain the same status as the regular troops in Russia’s armed forces.
Immediately after Putin’s speech, during which he also threatened the use of nuclear weapons and argued that this troubling threat is “not a bluff,” plane tickets out of Russia began selling fast. Western officials, like UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace and US ambassador to Kyiv Bridget Brink, said Putin’s announcement is proof that his forces are losing in Ukraine.
The mobilization is also a reversal of an earlier committement from Putin. The Russian leader said in early March, just days after launching his large-scale invasion of Ukraine, that he would not send reservists to fight.
“He used to do anything to avoid mobilization,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, tweeted on Wednesday. “Putin is in agony. He threw all his cards on the table.”
Russia’s mobilization moves shine a light on the Russian military’s glaring personnel issues.
A senior US defense official said earlier this week that Russia struggles to find volunteers to fight in Ukraine, and the Kremlin-linked private mercenary army Wagner has tried recruiting prisoners to fill the gaps. British intelligence said recently that expedited training courses at Russian military academies also highlight the Russian military’s “manpower challenge.”
Putin’s mobilization announcement Wednesday comes just one day after Moscow-backed separatists in four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced that they plan to hold referendums later this week on whether or not to join Russia. A vote in favor would set the stage for Russia to annex captured Ukrainian territory.
Ukrainian and Western officials slammed the plans as a sham and reiterated that the results of any vote would not be accepted.
“From my perspective, this is simply an information operation that’s meant to distract from the difficult state that the Russian military currently finds itself in right now,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Tuesday. “But no one will view such sham referenda with any credibility, and the US certainly will not recognize the outcome of any sham elections.”
The referendums are slated to take place after weeks of Ukrainian advances and battlefield success along the war’s northeastern and southern fronts. A sweeping counteroffensive has seen Ukraine liberate thousands of square miles of territory that was previously under Russian occupation.