(CNN) — Russia will partially mobilize its citizens, President Vladimir Putin announced during a highly anticipated address to the nation on Wednesday morning.
“In order to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to guarantee the security of our people and of the peoples in the liberated territories, I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff to carry out mobilization in the Russian Federation,” he said.
Efforts to start partial mobilization will start this Wednesday, Putin announced. He said that a partial mobilization decree has already been signed.
“I repeat, we are talking only about partial mobilization. That is, only those citizens who are in the reserve and, above all, those who served in the armed forces, have certain military specialties and relevant experience, will be subject to conscription.”
“After the Kyiv regime publicly rejected a peaceful solution to the Donbas issue today and, moreover, announced its claim for nuclear weapons, it became absolutely clear that a new, upcoming large-scale offensive in Donbas, as had already happened twice before, , It was inevitable”.
It is not clear what Putin meant by his mention of nuclear weapons.
At the beginning of his speech, Putin said on Wednesday that Western countries seek to destroy Russia.
“The goal of the West is to weaken, divide and finally destroy our country,” Putin said. “They are already saying directly that they were able to divide the Soviet Union in 1991 and now the time has come for Russia to divide itself into a multitude of regions and areas. who are fatally hostile to each other.
The partial mobilization comes amid a movement to amend the law on military service
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization follows Tuesday’s moves by Moscow’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, to amend the law on military service, toughening punishment for violation of duties of military service, such as desertion and evasion, according to the state news agency TASS.
The bill establishes a prison sentence of up to 15 years for resistance related to military service or coercion to violate an official military order, involving violence or the threat thereof, during the period of mobilization or martial law.
Deputies and senators of the State Duma have also prepared amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, proposing to introduce a liability of up to five years in prison for the negligent destruction or damage of weapons and military equipment during times of war, the state agency reported. of news RIA Novosti.
State Duma deputies have introduced the concepts of “mobilization”, “martial law”, “wartime” and “armed conflict” in the Russian Criminal Code, which will now be considered as aggravating factors in criminal sentences.
Although Putin’s announcement on Wednesday falls short of a full-scale conscription, as some had predicted, it does represent a significant move in the conflict and gives Russia sweeping powers to recruit its citizens with prior military experience.
It is not clear how many people with these backgrounds have already been mobilized.
Analysts say that Russia’s military faces a significant shortage of military personnel.
In July, CNN reported that a call had been launched across Russia for more than 30,000 volunteers to join the war effort in Ukraine. The lure was big cash bonuses and no experience needed.
Putin acknowledges Ukrainian attacks in Russian regions
President Vladimir Putin admitted that Ukraine attacked the Belgorod and Kursk regions in southwestern Russia.
“Such terrorist attacks, including those using Western weapons, are already taking place in the border settlements of the Belgorod and Kursk regions,” Putin said during his speech on Wednesday.
He added that “with its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has gone beyond the limits.”
Local Russian officials and the country’s Defense Ministry have previously accused Ukraine of carrying out attacks in the Belgorod and Kursk regions. But this is believed to be the first time Putin has addressed it, an admission that war is coming home.
Kyiv has not acknowledged those attacks and says it uses Western weapons only to attack Russian-held territory in Ukraine.
In the past, US President Joe Biden has said that US weapons should not be used to attack Russia (unlike Russian territory in Ukraine), and Ukrainian presidential adviser Alexey Arestovych told CNN in May that his country would not use them to attack Russian territory.
CNN’s Katya Krebs and Matthew Chance contributed reporting.