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Russian President Vladimir Putin said his aim was to “liberate” east Ukraine’s Donbas region

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation in Russia as the war in Ukraine reaches nearly seven months and Moscow loses ground on the battlefield. Putin also warned the West that “it’s not a bluff” that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory.

The total number of reservists to be called up is 3,00,000, officials said.

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

Putin’s remarks also come against the backdrop of the UN General Assembly in New York at which Moscow was warned about its referendum plans. The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following Ukrainian successes.

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The referendums, which have been expected to take place since the first months of the war, will start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

utin accused the West in engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

“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,” Putin said.

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He added: “It’s not a bluff.”

Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilisation, which is due to start on Wednesday.