Putin speech: what Russian president said about partial military mobilisation and nuclear threats to West

Vladimir Putin has warned Russia would use “all the means” at its disposal to protect its territory in a national address

The warning came as the Russian President gave his first address to the nation since February as the conflict in Ukraine threatens to spiral into a nuclear crisis.

Mr Putin said “it’s not a bluff” as he vowed that Russia would use its weapons of mass destruction if its territory was threatened.

He has now announced a partial military mobilisation in Russia as the war in Ukraine approaches the seven-month mark.

Here’s everything you need to know about what was said in the address today.

Vladimir Putin has warned Russia would use “all the means” at its disposal to protect its territory (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)

What did Putin announce in his speech?

The Russian President has announced a partial military mobilisation in Russia, with 300,000 reservists to be called up as the Kremlin attempts to regain ground in the face of a counter-attack by Ukraine’s forces.

The move means that people with previous military experience will join the war unless they are too old or medically unfit. The decree, published on the Kremlin website, said they would get extra training before being sent to fight.

Mr Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilisation, which is due to start on Wednesday (21 September).

He said the decision to partially mobilise was “fully adequate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories.”

“We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience”, he said.

What did Putin say about nuclear weapons?

Mr Putin warned the West that Russia would use its weapons of mass destruction if its territory was threatened, stressing that “it’s not a bluff.”

He accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and claimed “high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states” had talked about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia.

In his address he said: “To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of Nato countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal - and I’m not bluffing.”

The leader’s address comes a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming integral parts of Russia.

The referendums will start on Friday (23 September) in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas. Together, the regions make up about 15% of Ukrainian territory.

The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up the four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following recent Ukrainian successes on the battlefield because Mr Putin would be able to claim parts of his state were being attacked.

(Graphic: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)

Could Putin launch nuclear weapons at the UK?

Russia may be ready to use nuclear weapons against western countries, including the UK, a former adviser to Vladimir Putin has claimed.

Political scientist Sergei Markov was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if he believed the Russian leader had made a clear threat not just to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but also to start a general nuclear war that would kill everyone.

He replied “not everyone” but added it “could kill a lot of people in the western countries”.

Mr Markov said: “It was absolutely clear that Russia has no war against Ukraine. Russia has no reason to use technical nuclear weapons against Ukrainians. Ukrainians are our brothers but Ukrainians are occupied by western countries.

“It is western countries who are fighting against (the) Russian army using Ukrainian soldiers as their slaves.”

He added: “This nuclear war could be a result of the crazy behaviour of the president of the United States Joe Biden and prime ministers of Great Britain Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.”

How has the UK government responded to Putin’s threats?

The UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Putin’s actions were “an admission that his invasion is failing”, and “no amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war”.

Meanwhile Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan questioned whether Mr Putin was “in control”, but stressed that his comments should be taken “very seriously”.

The Chichester MP told Sky News: “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. I mean, this is obviously an escalation and, of course, for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war.”

Melinda Simmons, the UK’s ambassador in Kyiv, said Mr Putin’s “essential weakness” was “he still refuses to understand Ukraine”, while a British defence intelligence update suggested the Russian leader was being forced to undermine his own public position that the war in Ukraine was a “special military operation” rather than a full-scale conflict.

The Ministry of Defence said: “These new measures have highly likely been brought forwards due to public criticism and mark a further development in Russia’s strategy.

“Putin is accepting greater political risk by undermining the fiction that Russia is neither in a war nor a national crisis in the hope of generating more combat power.”