German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday condemned President Vladimir Putin’s order for a partial military mobilisation to support Russia’s war in Ukraine and hold annexation referendums as an “act of desperation".
Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Scholz insisted Russia “cannot win this criminal war" in Ukraine and that Putin “with his most recent decision makes everything much worse".
President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military mobilisation and vowed on Wednesday to use “all available means" to protect Russian territory, after Moscow-held regions of Ukraine suddenly announced annexation referendums.
The votes, already denounced by Kyiv and the West as a “sham", will dramatically up the stakes in the seven-month old conflict in Ukraine by giving Moscow the ability to accuse Ukrainian forces of attacking Russian territory.
Four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine — Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south — said on Tuesday that they would hold the votes over five days beginning Friday.
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, and said Russia needed to support those in Ukraine who wanted to “determine their own future".
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.