Russian President Vladimir Putin partially mobilized his country's army reserves yesterday for the first time since 1941, signaling a major escalation of Russia's war effort. In a brief speech, Putin also warned he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory, days ahead of referendums seeking to claim parts of Ukraine as Russia.
The decree comes amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast, which has forced a Russian retreat from the region. The partial call-up conscripts up to 300,000 of Russia's 2 million reserves into the Armed Forces initially, though analysts note the decree is open-ended (see text). For context, an estimated 190,000 troops took part in the initial February invasion and experts estimate that number has remained under 200,000 since.
At least 1,200 people were arrested in protests against the announced mobilization Wednesday, and airlines and rail carriers reportedly saw a surge in one-way tickets out of the country.