A picture released by Ukraine’s military on Wednesday shows artillerymen firing from a cannon along the frontline at an unknown location.—AFP
A picture released by Ukraine’s military on Wednesday shows artillerymen firing from a cannon along the frontline at an unknown location.—AFP

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin called up Russian military reservists on Wednesday, saying his promise to use all military means in Ukraine was “no bluff,” and hinting that Moscow was prepared to use nuclear weapons.

US President Joe Biden accused Russia of violating the core tenets of membership in the United Nations by invading Ukraine and said Moscow was making “irresponsible” threats to use nuclear weapons.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Biden slammed Putin for starting an unprovoked war that some 40 UN members are helping Ukraine fight with funding and weapons.

A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbour, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the UN Charter, Biden said.

Biden accuses Russia of ‘irresponsible’ nuclear threats, violating UN charter; Nato chief calls mobilisation ‘dangerous and reckless’

Putin ordered a Russian mobilisation to fight in Ukraine and made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons, in what Nato called a “reckless” act of desperation in the face of a looming Russian defeat.

Putin’s mobilisation of thousands of extra troops for the war in Ukraine will escalate the conflict and his threat to use nuclear weapons was “dangerous and reckless rhetoric,” the Nato secretary general said.

Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters Editor in Chief Alessandra Galloni in an interview that Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two was not a surprise but that it would escalate the conflict that began with the Russian invasion on Feb 24.

“We will make sure that there is no misunderstanding in Moscow about exactly how we will react. Of course it depends upon what kind of situation or what kind or weapons they may use. The most important thing is to prevent that from happening and that is why we have been so clear in our communications with Russia about the unprecedented consequences,” Stoltenberg said, referring to any Russian use of nuclear weapons.

Putin’s mobilisation call comes as Moscow-held regions of Ukraine prepare to hold annexation referendums this week, dramatically upping the stakes in the seven-month conflict by allowing Moscow to accuse Ukraine of attacking Russian territory.

Beijing, which so far has tacitly backed Moscow’s intervention called on Wednesday for a “ceasefire through dialogue” after Putin’s address and, in likely reference to the referenda, said the “territorial integrity of all countries should be respected”.

In a pre-recorded address to the nation early on Wednesday, Putin accused the West of trying to “destroy” his country through its backing of Kyiv. Russia needed to support those in Ukraine who wanted to “determine their own future”, he said.

The Russian leader announced a partial military mobilisation, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu telling state television that some 300,000 reservists would be called up.

‘Act of desperation’

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.

“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction,” he added.

But Ukrainian President Volo­dymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Germany’s Bild media group released on Wednesday, he did not think Putin would resort to nuclear weapons.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounced the call-up as “an act of desperation” in a “criminal war” he said Russia could not win.

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said it would result in a “massive tragedy, in a massive amount of deaths”.

Putin said that through its support for Ukraine the West was trying to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”.

Shoigu said Moscow was “fighting not so much Ukraine as the collective West” in Ukraine. In a rare admission of military losses from Moscow, Shoigu said 5,937 Russian soldiers had died in Ukraine since the launch of the military intervention in February.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022

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