Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilisation of Russian forces in which some 300,000 reservists could be called up.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have liberated large swathes of their territory and, in a sign of increasing desperation in Moscow, the Kremlin has ordered the partial mobilisation “to defend the motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the security of our people.”
Putin also accused the west of “nuclear blackmail” and strongly hinted he would consider using Russia’s own nuclear weapons:
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to defend Russia and our people, we will use all means we have. This is not a bluff,” he warned.
"The territorial integrity of our motherland, our independence and freedom will be secured, I repeat with all the means we have.
"Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”
Referendums will also be held in four occupied regions of Ukraine in an attempt to legitimise their annexation to the Russian Federation.
In response to Putin’s announcement, Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba was scathing:
"The Russians can do whatever they want,” he said.
“It will not change anything."
Main image: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a press conference in Moscow in February 2022. Picture by: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo