Russian anti-war protestors dragged away by officers in blacked-out helmets after taking to streets

Police wearing blacked-out helmets are dragging anti-mobilisation protestors off the streets of Russia tonight, as thousands come out to demonstrate against being sent to the front lines in Ukraine.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested tonight in 37 cities across Russia, including Moscow and St Petersburg, as they voiced their anger at President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilise 300,000 reservists.

There have been angry clashes between activists and security forces, with protestors being forcefully taken to the ground and removed from the streets as the government cracks down on vocal dissent.

Demonstrators tonight chanted anti-war slogans, with some calling for Putin himself to go to the trenches in Ukraine, while other’s have angrily proclaimed they’re not willing to die for him.

It is reported a total of 828 arrests have been made so far, with this number likely to rise throughout the night as the government cracks down on vocal dissent. 

In the capital Moscow 303 people have been arrested, while the former imperial capital of St Petersburg saw 279 taken into custody, and 40 more have been arrested in Yekaterinburg, a city east of the Ural Mountains.

As protests spread, many men of fighting age opted to try and leave the country, driven by fears the border might soon be closed, with tickets for one-way flights out of Moscow being snapped up by worried Russians.

The decision to mobilise the country is the first of its type in the country since the Second World War, and has come as Russian forces sustain humiliating losses to advancing Ukrainian troops in the east of the country.

The first protests against the partial mobilisation took place in Siberia, with demonstrators risking being jailed under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces.

Videos circulating on social media show people marching through the streets of Moscow chanting ‘no to war’, and mass arrests by armed police wearing riot gear and all black clothing. 

One protester was hauled into detention in Novosibirsk after shouting at police and FSB officers at a rally: ‘I am not going to die for Putin, or for you!’ 

A man is dragged away by Russian security forces at a protest in Moscow tonight against Vladimir Putin's order for the mobilisation of military reservists

A man is dragged away by Russian security forces at a protest in Moscow tonight against Vladimir Putin’s order for the mobilisation of military reservists

A woman is carried away by Russian police in Moscow tonight during a demonstration against the Russian president's latest escalation in the Ukraine conflict

A woman is carried away by Russian police in Moscow tonight during a demonstration against the Russian president’s latest escalation in the Ukraine conflict

A man is carried away by security personnel in Moscow tonight as thousands took to the streets to protest against the war and the mobilisation of reservists

A man is carried away by security personnel in Moscow tonight as thousands took to the streets to protest against the war and the mobilisation of reservists

There were clashes between police and protesters in Moscow tonight as people took to the streets to protest Putin's latest plans in the Ukraine conflict

There were clashes between police and protesters in Moscow tonight as people took to the streets to protest Putin’s latest plans in the Ukraine conflict

Russian police prepare to detain people taking part in a protest in central St Petersburg earlier today after Putin signed a degree on partial mobilisation

Russian police prepare to detain people taking part in a protest in central St Petersburg earlier today after Putin signed a degree on partial mobilisation

Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced he was partially mobilising 300,000 military reservists in a dramatic escalation in the war in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced he was partially mobilising 300,000 military reservists in a dramatic escalation in the war in Ukraine

One protester was hauled into detention in Novosibirsk after shouting at police and FSB officers at a rally: 'I am not going to die for Putin, or for you!'

One protester was hauled into detention in Novosibirsk after shouting at police and FSB officers at a rally: 'I am not going to die for Putin, or for you!'

One protester was hauled into detention in Novosibirsk after shouting at police and FSB officers at a rally: ‘I am not going to die for Putin, or for you!’

Protestors at an unsanctioned rally against the mobilisation of reservists in Moscow were dragged away by Russian police officers

Protestors at an unsanctioned rally against the mobilisation of reservists in Moscow were dragged away by Russian police officers

Pictured: a woman is led away by police officers wielding batons in Moscow

More than 100 demonstrators holding ‘no to mobilisation’ signs and chanting anti-war slogans have been dragged away by armed police trying to stamp out the unrest across the country. Pictured: people being arrested by police in Moscow

Russian police officers try to detain a protester during an anti-war protest in Moscow tonight, with other activists trying to pull them away

Russian police officers try to detain a protester during an anti-war protest in Moscow tonight, with other activists trying to pull them away

Russian police officers block Arbat Street, in Moscow, tonight as protesters gather to demonstrate against Putin's mobilisation of 300,000 army reservists

Russian police officers block Arbat Street, in Moscow, tonight as protesters gather to demonstrate against Putin’s mobilisation of 300,000 army reservists

A Russian police officer tries to detain a protester in Moscow tonight. Reports indicate that more than 800 people have been arrested by security forces in the country so far

A Russian police officer tries to detain a protester in Moscow tonight. Reports indicate that more than 800 people have been arrested by security forces in the country so far

A female activist holds an anti-mobilisation poster and shouts slogans during a protest in Arbat Street, Moscow, earlier tonight

A female activist holds an anti-mobilisation poster and shouts slogans during a protest in Arbat Street, Moscow, earlier tonight

He told the armed law enforcement: ‘You know too well everything is f***** up!’

The man was loudly clapped by other protesters at the anti-war rally in Siberia’s unofficial capital police officer bellowed at him: ‘I demand you to stop this illegal activity.’

A protester’s voice is heard saying ‘What are you doing?’ as he is detained, while another asks: ‘Are you animals?’

One more voice said: ‘They are [protesting] so as not to be sent there [to the war in Ukraine].’

Anger has also erupted on social media and a new word was even invented to describe the hell Putin has unleashed – ‘Mogilisation’, from the Russian word ‘Могила’ [Mogila] – or grave, the morbid fate awaiting thousands drafted into the army.

While some took to the streets, others tried to flee the regime and ticket prices duly skyrocketed, with a family of three having to fork out £44,000 to fly to Johannesburg, while the cheapest flights to Dubai were costing more than £8,000 – about ten times the average monthly wage, for a one-way economy fare. 

Russian police officers stand guard during a rally in Moscow, after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin

Russian police officers stand guard during a rally in Moscow, after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin

Four police officers wearing black visors, vests and carrying batons detain a person in Moscow this evening

Four police officers wearing black visors, vests and carrying batons detain a person in Moscow this evening

Today's protests began in Siberia, with demonstrators risking jail under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces, but unrest later spread to the capital Moscow (pictured)

Today’s protests began in Siberia, with demonstrators risking jail under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces, but unrest later spread to the capital Moscow (pictured)

In Yekaterinburg (pictured) there were ugly scenes as civilians and police clashed on the street over the controversial new order

In Yekaterinburg (pictured) there were ugly scenes as civilians and police clashed on the street over the controversial new order

More than 100 demonstrators holding 'no to mobilisation' signs and chanting anti-war slogans have been dragged away by armed police

More than 100 demonstrators holding 'no to mobilisation' signs and chanting anti-war slogans have been dragged away by armed police

More than 100 demonstrators holding ‘no to mobilisation’ signs and chanting anti-war slogans have been dragged away by armed police

Protests have become almost impossible in Russia due to harsh punishments meted out for anyone questioning Putin¿s war

Protests have become almost impossible in Russia due to harsh punishments meted out for anyone questioning Putin’s war

More unrest was expected this evening in western Russian cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, as protesters vented their fury, holding up 'no to mobilisation' signs

More unrest was expected this evening in western Russian cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, as protesters vented their fury

More unrest was expected this evening in western Russian cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, as protesters vented their fury, holding up ‘no to mobilisation’ signs

Police officers are seen deployed in central Novosibirsk following calls to protest against partial mobilisation announced by Putin today

Police officers are seen deployed in central Novosibirsk following calls to protest against partial mobilisation announced by Putin today

A demonstrator is led away by armed police wielding batons in Novosibirsk as civil unrest breaks out across the country

A demonstrator is led away by armed police wielding batons in Novosibirsk as civil unrest breaks out across the country

People hold several posters. From left to right: 'Our husbands, fathers and brothers don't want to kill other husbands and fathers', 'No to (wiped out)', 'No to mogilisation', 'No to mobilisation'

People hold several posters. From left to right: ‘Our husbands, fathers and brothers don’t want to kill other husbands and fathers’, ‘No to (wiped out)’, ‘No to mogilisation’, ‘No to mobilisation’

A family walks in front of a billboard promoting the military in St Petersburg, with the slogan: 'Serving Russia is a real job'

A family walks in front of a billboard promoting the military in St Petersburg, with the slogan: ‘Serving Russia is a real job’

Google data showed a family of three would have to fork out £44,000 to get to Johannesburg today in a 45-hour trip with three layovers

Google data showed a family of three would have to fork out £44,000 to get to Johannesburg today in a 45-hour trip with three layovers

All plane tickets to countries where Russians would not need a visa, including Turkey, Armenia and Georgia, have sold out, while national carrier Aeroflot is not displaying any tickets for today

All plane tickets to countries where Russians would not need a visa, including Turkey, Armenia and Georgia, have sold out, while national carrier Aeroflot is not displaying any tickets for today

The first protests began in Siberia today against Vladimir Putin¿s move to force hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in the war against Ukraine. Pictured: Novosibirsk

The first protests began in Siberia today against Vladimir Putin’s move to force hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in the war against Ukraine. Pictured: Novosibirsk

Vladimir Putin has today threatened to nuke the West over Ukraine, as he announced plans to annex occupied parts of its territory to the Russian mainland

Vladimir Putin has today threatened to nuke the West over Ukraine, as he announced plans to annex occupied parts of its territory to the Russian mainland

Google searches for 'How to leave Russia' also increased today, data shows (pictured), as terrified civilians sought to avoid the prospect of conflict

Google searches for ‘How to leave Russia’ also increased today, data shows (pictured), as terrified civilians sought to avoid the prospect of conflict

A view of the Polish-Russian border crossing in Grzechotki-Mamonowo after Poland tightened restrictions on Russians entering the country,

A view of the Polish-Russian border crossing in Grzechotki-Mamonowo after Poland tightened restrictions on Russians entering the country, 

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (pictured today) said the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers, and that students and those who had only served as conscripts would not be called up

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (pictured today) said the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers, and that students and those who had only served as conscripts would not be called up

Dozens were detained as demonstrators risked being jailed for weeks or years under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces

Dozens were detained as demonstrators risked being jailed for weeks or years under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces

Dozens were detained as demonstrators risked being jailed for weeks or years under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces

Russia’s opposition newspaper says Putin has ‘declared war on his people’

Novaya Gazeta, which was banned in Russia last week, has published a damning critique of Putin on its European site. 

Kirill Martynov, editor-in-chief of the opposition news site, claimed Putin has declared war ‘on his people and his country’ with the controversial mobilisation order.

He wrote: ‘The panic of the Russian Federation and the indifference of Ukraine are not accidental. Putin’s announcement of an allegedly partial, limited mobilisation is much more dangerous for the Russians themselves. 

‘Until recently, the main problem of Russian citizens was the inability to buy currency or the withdrawal of Western brands from the country, and now the national sport of men will be salvation from the front, saving life, health and, if possible, freedom. 

‘Vladimir Putin really wants to enter into some kind of history and drags along the people who still hoped to live. 

‘Having started an unreasonable, aggressive war against a neighbouring sovereign country, annexing its territories, destroying his own soldiers for the sake of illusions of geopolitics and amateur lectures on history, blackmailing the world with a nuclear bomb, and finally starting mobilization, Vladimir Putin declared war on his people and country.’

According to Russian investigative news outlet RBK, all plane tickets to countries where Russians would not need a visa, including Turkey, Armenia and Georgia, have now sold out, while flagship airline Aeroflot is not displaying any available flights. 

Some alleged people already had been turned back from Russia’s land border with Georgia and that the website of the state Russian railway company collapsed because too many people were checking for ways out of the country.

Putin’s apocalyptic nuclear warnings have prompted even China to demand a ceasefire ‘through dialogue and consultation’, while Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Putin should return all occupied land, including Crimea, to its ‘rightful owners’.  

Meanwhile the US will retaliate with ‘a devastating strike’ if Putin uses nuclear weapons, the United States Army’s former European commander has warned.  

Russian Railways and Aeroflot said they hadn’t ‘yet’ been ordered to ban men aged 18 to 65 from boarding. 

A group based in Serbia, Russians, Belarussians, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against War, tweeted that there were no available flights to Belgrade from Russia until mid-October. Flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia also sold out, according to the Belgrade-based group. 

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, said Putin was sending more Russians to their deaths for a failing war.

‘It is clear that the criminal war is getting worse, deepening, and Putin is trying to involve as many people as possible in this,’ Navalny said in a video message from jail recorded and published by his lawyers.

‘He wants to smear hundreds of thousands of people in this blood,’ Navalny said.

The tyrant’s announcement, made in an early-morning television address, raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave Russia. 

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers, and that students and those who had only served as conscripts would not be called up.

Nevertheless, the move has raised fears of mass conscription in the worrying escalation of the war.

A former top Russian state TV presenter on propagandist Channel One, Zhanna Agalokova, 56, today publicly denounced Putin – and sent back honours she had been awarded.

In a letter she told the warmonger: ‘Mr President, your leadership is plunging the country into the abyss. I consider awards given by you as unacceptable.’

Meanwhile a mixture of fear, anger, and dissent was spreading across Russian social media networks.

‘I am super worried for my young male friends and my boyfriend,’ said one woman, 28, from a city thousands of miles east of the Kremlin where the Russian president issued his fateful TV call-up.

Lilianna D demanded: ‘I recommend mobilising the entire Duma [parliament] and their families first of all. And let people see how loyal they are.’

Andrey Shipilov, a Cyprus-based Russian journalist, posted: ‘A friend from Russia has just messaged…an entire institute’s [graduates], all reserve officers, have already been called up this morning’. 

Putin vowed that he will use 'all available means' to defend what he sees as Russian territory, adding: 'I'm not bluffing' (pictured, a Russian nuclear test)

 Putin vowed that he will use ‘all available means’ to defend what he sees as Russian territory, adding: ‘I’m not bluffing’ (pictured, a Russian nuclear test)

Russia has announced plans for referendums to take place in four regions of Ukraine it either fully or partially occupied - Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson

Russia has announced plans for referendums to take place in four regions of Ukraine it either fully or partially occupied – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson 

The benchmark rouble-based MOEX index hit its lowest point since February 24

The benchmark rouble-based MOEX index hit its lowest point since February 24

Screaming former Putin advisor warns despot is ready to NUKE Britain

A former Russian MP and Putin advisor declared that British cities will be targeted by Putin’s nukes in a bare-faced tirade this morning on the Today programme. 

Sergei Markov had barely exchanged pleasantries with BBC Radio 4 host Justin Webb when he launched into a series of threats about nuclear war. 

‘It’s not a good morning for everybody. In Russia there’s partial mobilisation and for your British listeners Vladimir Putin told you that he would be ready to use nuclear weapons against Western countries… including against Great Britain.

‘Your cities will be targeted.’

Markov, who was elected to Russia’s State Duma in 2007 representing Putin’s United Russia party, is now a professor of international relations at a Moscow university and has a history of spouting Putin’s rhetoric in Western media.

‘If Great Britain will continue to be aggressor against Russia… if Prime Minister of Great Britain Liz Truss still has a plan to destroy Russia, people in London should understand the threat [of nuclear weapons],’ he said.

Markov’s unhinged comments today came moments after the Russian president announced partial mobilisation to reinforce his faltering war in Ukraine and delivered his most pronounced nuclear threat yet towards the West.

Markov from the get-go set about decrying Western involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and accused the West of using Ukrainian soldiers as ‘slaves’ to deplete the Russian army. 

‘It was absolutely clear that Russia has no war against Ukraine…there’s no reason to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukrainians,’ he said.

‘But Ukraine is occupied by Western countries… it’s Western countries fighting against Russian army, using Ukrainian soldiers as their slaves. This was the main idea of Vladimir Putin.’

Bemused host Justin Webb allowed Markov to reach a conclusion before calmly asking whether the ex-Putin aide and the Russian people believed there could be a winner in a nuclear war. 

‘Everybody in the world is now thinking about nuclear war… which could be the result of crazy behaviour of US president Joe Biden and prime ministers of Great Britain Boris Johnson and [Liz] Truss,’ Markov retorted.

Putin’s gambit comes after Ukraine routed a large part of the Russian army last week, leaving him backed into a corner of his own making and facing the possible collapse of his so-called ‘special military operation’. 

But rather than back down, the Russian leader has instead chosen to double down and hold the free world to ransom – putting Russia and its huge nuclear arsenal on direct collision course with Ukraine and its allies, who have already vowed not to accept the results of ‘sham’ referendums or to stop liberating occupied territory.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges today said any response by America ‘may not be nuclear’ but warned that if Putin were to use nukes in Ukraine that the US could look to ‘destroy the Black Sea Fleet or destroy Russian bases in Crimea’.

Gen Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, stressed the ‘possibility’ of Putin ordering a nuclear strike on Ukraine was ‘very unlikely’.

But he said the use of any strategic weapons of mass destruction would be met with a swift and severe reaction from President Joe Biden. 

‘He [Putin] knows the US will have to respond if Russia uses a nuclear weapon,’ Gen Hodges told MailOnline. 

‘The US response may not be nuclear…but could very well be a devastating strike that could, for example, destroy the Black Sea Fleet or destroy Russian bases in Crimea.

‘So, I think President Putin and those around him will be reluctant to draw the US into the conflict directly.’ 

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said Putin’s nuclear threat was ‘irresponsible’ and it would be taken ‘seriously’ by the US.

The White House official reiterated previous comments by President Joe Biden when asked what the US response would be to Russia reaching for its nuclear arsenal, which analysts speculate could mean detonating a demonstration blast over the Black Sea, using battlefield nuclear warheads to limit the radiation, or ultimately using a larger weapon.

‘There’ll be severe consequences. Not only will he be that much more of pariah on the world stage, but there’ll have to be severe consequences that the international community will have.’

NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg added that Putin was issuing ‘dangerous and reckless rhetoric’, but it demonstrated ‘that the war is not going according to his plans’ and it was clear that the Russian president had made ‘a big miscalculation’. 

Speaking ahead of Putin’s speech last night, President Zelensky dismissed ‘noise’ from Russia and said it will not alter Ukraine’s resolve. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba likewise vowed: ‘The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.’

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodrymyr Zelensky, spoke out this morning after Putin’s announcement – calling it ‘predictable’ and saying it show the war is not going to plan. President Joe Biden is expected to give a speech to the UN later today when he will rally Ukraine’s allies to stay the course.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, said the chance of Putin nuking Ukraine was 'very unlikely'

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, said the chance of Putin nuking Ukraine was ‘very unlikely’

The US could launch 'devastating strikes' on Russian military targets in Crimea and the Black Sea, pictured, if Putin nukes Ukraine, a former US Army commander has warned today

The US could launch ‘devastating strikes’ on Russian military targets in Crimea and the Black Sea, pictured, if Putin nukes Ukraine, a former US Army commander has warned today

‘This will hurt Russia more than it hurts Ukraine’: Why Putin’s 300,000 reservists WON’T win the war – and could end up backfiring 

Vladimir Putin today ordered the first mobilisation of Russia’s military reserves since the Second World War in an attempt to turn around his failing war in Ukraine.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that 300,000 men – twice the size of the original invading force – will be pressed into service, including veterans and those with ‘special skills’ the army needs.

But, according to Dr Stepan Stepanenko, the lead Russia Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, the new recruits are unlikely to turn the tide in Putin’s favour.

He told MailOnline: ‘They will be cannon fodder, it’s as simple as that. 300,000 is a lot, even if you give them sticks it will make a difference.

‘But it is unlikely the Russian infrastructure, particularly the corrupt military infrastructure, can deploy them all at the same time. They will probably be deployed bit by bit, they will get killed off bit by bit, and it won’t make much difference to the overall war.

‘If anything, it will swing the war in Ukraine’s favour rather than Russia’s. Already there are protests in Russia by those who don’t want to go.

‘They don’t have the modern tanks or modern planes they did a few months ago. There was talk in Putin’s speech about setting the entire country on a war footing, but it has not yet happened and I’m not sure the Russian people will be able to do it. The corruption in Russia is so high that any kind of turnaround is highly improbable.’

Viktorija Starych-Samuolienė, the co-founder of the Council on Geostrategy, agreed. She told MailOnline: ‘It is important to remember that [Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu has given wildly inaccurate statements in the past, and his figure of 300,000 conscripts may prove to be another one of these.

‘Regardless of the true number of newly called-up soldiers, it will take time for them to be equipped, trained and transported to the front lines.

‘One of the biggest challenges the Russian military currently faces is in logistics: soldiers not having armour plating or the right type of shovels, using decades-old equipment and vehicles, no secure communications methods etc… This problem will not go away and will almost certainly become worse with the addition of (for argument’s sake) 300,000 new soldiers.’

Podolyak said mobilisation will prove extremely unpopular within Russia, and accused Putin of trying to shift the blame for starting an ‘unprovoked war’ and crashing the economy on to the West.

It is thought the mobilisation will press around 300,000 people into the Russian army – around twice the size of the force that Putin invaded with.

But it is unclear when exactly these men will become available, and the move will do nothing to solve Russia’s chronic lack of equipment, supplies and other logistical issues that have spelled disaster for its invasion so-far. 

Putin had resisted declaring any kind of mobilistion until now, apparently fearing backlash from Russians who may have been supporting his ‘special military operation’ only because they had nothing to lose.

But the Russian leader dramatically changed tack under pressure from allies, propagandists and hardliners after another humiliating military defeat near Kharkiv last week which had sparked calls for him to resign.

He was at pains to stress that the mobilisation is only partial, and will not affect ordinary citizens, conscripts or students. Those called up to service – starting today – will be those with experience of service and combat, he insisted.

Speaking after Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu gave a rare update on Russian casualty figures, preposterously claiming that only 6,000 Kremlin troops have been killed in the war so far.

Ukrainian losses, he said, were ten times that: 61,000 dead in addition to 49,000 wounded.  

In a speech delayed for 13 hours overnight – triggering wishful rumours of a coup inside the Kremlin – Putin delivered his twisted interpretation of the war to date.

He attempted to rewrite history to paint the West and NATO as the aggressor – saying they had pushed Ukraine into a war with Russia, despite ordering an invasion of the country himself just seven months ago.

Ukraine began the war back in 2014, he said – referring to the date of Russia’s last invasion – when the ‘Nazi’ regime in Kyiv had turned the military on its own civilians in an attempted genocide following what he called a ‘coup’ to oust the country’s last pro-Kremlin leader.

In Putin’s retelling, the West ‘refused a peaceful solution’ and instead began rearming Ukraine for an attack on the Donbas – leaving him with no choice but to launch a pre-emptive war to protect people.

He falsely claimed that peace negotiations with Ukraine were deliberately undermined by Kyiv’s bloody-minded Western allies, who then began training and equipping its armed forces with the goal of destroying Russia.

Attacks on schools and hospitals are not the work of the Russian army, as reams of evidence suggests, but are in fact the work of Ukrainian Nazis and nationalists, he said.

Facing these threats, Putin said he has no choice but to accept the requests of his puppet leaders in occupied Ukraine to hold referendums on joining Russia, and no choice but to call up his military reserves.

He added: ‘In its aggressive anti-Russian policies, the West has crossed all lines… There are plans in Washington and Brussels to move the military action on to Russian territory. 

A dead soldier lies on the ground in Ukraine as Putin dramatically escalates his war

A dead soldier lies on the ground in Ukraine as Putin dramatically escalates his war

A refrigerated train filled with the bodies of Putin's fallen troops returns from Ukraine earlier in the war

A refrigerated train filled with the bodies of Putin’s fallen troops returns from Ukraine earlier in the war

‘Doctors called after Putin suffered coughing fit amid chaotic scenes behind TV address’ 

Doctors were called to Putin’s aid amid behind the scenes chaos as he prepared to issue his doomsday nuclear threats, Kremlin rumours have claimed.

The Russian tyrant allegedly suffered coughing fits and chest pains in the lead-up to his TV address, which was delayed for 13 hours.

The General SVR Telegram channel, believed to be run by a former Kremlin insider which had predicted the mobilisation move, said Putin’s speech had to be re-recorded multiple times because of his ill health.

They also claimed that three key figures threatened to resign over the president’s dramatic escalation, including the respected Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Russian central bank who has kept the economy afloat amid Western sanctions.

The Telegram channel said: ‘Several attempts to start recording an appeal were frustrated due to coughing.

‘After the fourth unsuccessful attempt to record an appeal, doctors were called to the president, to whom Putin also complained of chest pains.’ 

‘They are not just talking about Russia being destroyed on the battlefield, they are talking about political, cultural, and all other types of sovereignty with complete pillage. Now they’re talking about nuclear blackmail.

‘Those who make such statements will be reminded that our country also has various weapons of destruction and with regard to certain components they are even more modern than the NATO ones.

‘If there is any threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to protect our people we will certainly use all means available to us. I’m not bluffing.

‘Russia citizens can be certain that the territorial integrity of our motherland, our independence and security will be assured. I shall stress – by all means available to us

‘And those trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the tables can turn on them

‘In our historic tradition our people had it in their destiny to stop those how are trying to subjugate our motherland and it will happen now.’

The allegations are an almost exact inversion of everything Russia has been accused of doing, and is a common trope of Kremlin propaganda.

Referendums will begin this week into next week, according to Russia occupation authorities, with the results expected to be announced shortly after.

Police and officials will go door-to-door to ensure people cast their votes, they said, leaving few doubts about which way they will be voting. 

Ballot boxes will also be set up inside Russia itself, ostensibly to allow those who have already fled those regions a chance to cast a vote – but in all likelihood will be stuffed with fake ballots.

Early ‘polling’ released by Russian state media last night showed – unsurprisingly – that more than 80 per cent of people in the four regions want to join Russia.

In Donetsk and Luhansk – the focus of Putin’s war effort – the reported figure was over 90 per cent. 

Russians gather in front of a billboard in St Petersburg displaying a picture of a Russian soldier along with the slogan 'Glory to the heroes of Russia', after Putin announced he will start conscripting men into the army

Russians gather in front of a billboard in St Petersburg displaying a picture of a Russian soldier along with the slogan ‘Glory to the heroes of Russia’, after Putin announced he will start conscripting men into the army

Putin attempted to revise history in his address, claiming the West was using Ukrainians as cannon fodder despite his military striking civilian targets (pictured)

Putin attempted to revise history in his address, claiming the West was using Ukrainians as cannon fodder despite his military striking civilian targets (pictured)

Russia will also carry out a partial military mobilisation, Putin said, with veterans and reservists with combat or service experience called up (pictured, Russian marines in training)

Russia will also carry out a partial military mobilisation, Putin said, with veterans and reservists with combat or service experience called up (pictured, Russian marines in training)

West vows never to recognise results of ‘sham’ referendums 

Western leaders last night vowed never to respect the results of ‘sham’ referendums annexing parts of Ukraine to Russia, speaking hours before Putin issued his new nuclear threat.

White House spokesman Jake Sullivan described the votes as a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty which carry ‘no legitimacy’.

Emmanuel Macron, speaking at the UN where heads of state are gathered for a general assembly, said that if Moscow’s plan ‘wasn’t so tragic it would be funny.’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Putin will only give up his ‘imperial ambitions’ that risk destroying Ukraine and Russia if he recognises he cannot win the war.

‘This is why we will not accept any peace dictated by Russia and this is why Ukraine must be able to fend off Russia’s attack,’ Scholz said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the assembly the U.N.’s credibility was in danger because of the invasion by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, and reforms of the council were needed.

‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a conduct that tramples the philosophy and principles of the U.N. charter … It should never be tolerated,’ Kishida said.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba vowed that: ‘The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything.

‘Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.’

If the referendum plan ‘wasn’t so tragic it would be funny,’ French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters ahead of the U.N. assembly in New York.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Putin will only give up his ‘imperial ambitions’ that risk destroying Ukraine and Russia if he recognises he cannot win the war.

‘This is why we will not accept any peace dictated by Russia and this is why Ukraine must be able to fend off Russia’s attack,’ Scholz said in his first address to the General Assembly.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the assembly the U.N.’s credibility was in danger because of the invasion by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, and reforms of the council were needed.

‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a conduct that tramples the philosophy and principles of the U.N. charter … It should never be tolerated,’ Kishida said.

‘The situation on at the front clearly indicates the initiative is with Ukraine,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address released early on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s position did not change because of ‘some noise’ from Russia, Zelensky added in a reference to the referendums.

Russia is now almost seven months into what was intended to be a days-long war in Ukraine, and the situation for its troops is becoming increasingly desperate.

Having been forced to retreat from Kyiv in the early months of fighting after its advance stalled, the Kremlin’s war machine instead focused its efforts on ‘liberating’ the eastern Donbas region.

Months of grinding warfare saw Russia capture the whole of the Luhansk region, but only around half of neighbouring Donetsk – which make up the Donbas.

As Russia’s advances slowed and then stopped, Ukraine went on the counter-attack – launching an offensive on the southern city of Kherson.

Russia moved forces from other areas of the country to help defend the city, at which point Ukraine launched a second counter-attack east out of Kharkiv – in the north.

That move caught the Kremlin’s commanders completely off guard, triggering a rout that handed 3,000 square miles of territory that Russia had spent months capturing back to Ukraine in just a few days.

And Kyiv has continued to press the attack, regaining a foothold in the Luhansk region and threatening to push further across the province.

Faced with war on two fronts and not enough men to hold the territory he has already captured, Putin was left with few options but to begin conscripting men.

However, experts and analysts say it will do little to turn the tide of the war in his favour.

It will take at least weeks, possibly months, to gather, equip, train and transport hundreds of thousands more men to the frontlines – time that Russia does not have.

By the time reinforcements arrive winter will be setting in when combat operations will be considerably harder, compounding the issues that Russia’s military already faces.

And mobilising more men will do nothing to solve the chronic lack of equipment and supplies among Russia’s ranks, or fix the logistical issues which have hampered its attacks.

Some drew comparisons with the disastrous Winter War that the Soviet Union fought against Finland, which ended with hundreds of thousands of Red Army troops dead or wounded to around 25,000 Finnish. 

Western leaders had pre-empted Putin’s remarks at the UN last night, saying they would not recognise the results of any ‘sham’ referendums in Ukraine.

‘The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything,’ Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday as world leaders were arriving for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

He later doubled down on the issue, tweeting: ‘Sham ‘referendums’ will not change anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilization.’

‘Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.’

French President Emmanuel Macron said that if the referendum plan ‘wasn’t so tragic it would be funny.’ 

He described Russia’s invasion as ‘a return to a new age of imperialism and colonies’ and warned that inaction risked ‘tearing down the global order without which peace is not possible.’

‘It’s not a matter of choosing one side between East and West, or North or South. It’s a matter of responsibility’ to the UN Charter, he said.

Putin lashed out at the free world after his military suffered a humiliating rout near Kharkiv last week that handed a swathe of territory back to Ukraine (pictured, destroyed Russian tanks)

Putin lashed out at the free world after his military suffered a humiliating rout near Kharkiv last week that handed a swathe of territory back to Ukraine (pictured, destroyed Russian tanks)

Russia is increasingly resorting to desperate moves to hold on to the territory it has seized in Ukraine, including the apparent use of incendiary weapons (pictured)

Russia is increasingly resorting to desperate moves to hold on to the territory it has seized in Ukraine, including the apparent use of incendiary weapons (pictured)

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the world was ‘facing a new fragmentation’ after years of hope following the end of the Cold War and his own nation’s reunification.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the world was ‘facing a new fragmentation’ after years of hope following the end of the Cold War and his own nation’s reunification.

Scholz said that President Vladimir Putin, who invaded Ukraine in February, will ‘only give up his war and his imperialist ambitions if he realizes he cannot win.’

‘We stand firmly at the side of those under attack — for the protection of the lives and the freedom of the Ukrainians, and for the protection of our international order,’ he said.

And Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the assembly the U.N.’s credibility was in danger because of the invasion by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council.

‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a conduct that tramples the philosophy and principles of the U.N. charter … It should never be tolerated,’ Kishida said.

President Joe Biden will make an address to the UN today in which he will argue that Russia’s ‘naked aggression’ in Ukraine is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for.

White House officials said the focus of his time at the general assembly will be rallying Ukraine allies to stay the course against Russia, and remain united in the face of Putin’s threats. 

‘He’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen these past several months,’ White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president’s address. 

‘He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.’

In his nightly address Zelenskyy said there were lots of questions surrounding the announcements but stressed that they would not change Ukraine’s commitment to retake areas occupied by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed world leaders at the UN last night, thanking Western leaders for condemning Russia's plans to break away parts of his country

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed world leaders at the UN last night, thanking Western leaders for condemning Russia’s plans to break away parts of his country

Emmanuel Macron was among leaders to address the UN on Ukraine last night, accusing Putin of trying to 'return to an age of imperialism and colonies'

Emmanuel Macron was among leaders to address the UN on Ukraine last night, accusing Putin of trying to ‘return to an age of imperialism and colonies’

‘The situation on the front line clearly indicates that the initiative belongs to Ukraine,’ he said. ‘Our positions do not change because of the noise or any announcements somewhere. And we enjoy the full support of our partners in this.

‘I thank all friends and partners of Ukraine for today’s mass principled firm condemnation of Russia’s attempts to stage new sham referenda,’ Zelensky said.

In another signal that Russia is digging in for a protracted and ramped-up conflict, the Kremlin-controlled lower of house of parliament voted Tuesday to toughen laws against desertion, surrender and looting by Russian troops. 

Lawmakers also voted to introduce possible 10-year prison terms for soldiers refusing to fight.

If approved, as expected, by the upper house and then signed by Putin, the legislation would strengthen commanders’ hands against failing morale reported among soldiers.

In the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar, shelling continued around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. 

Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom said Russian shelling again damaged infrastructure at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and briefly forced workers to start two diesel generators for emergency power to reactor cooling pumps.

Such pumps are essential for avoiding a meltdown at a nuclear facility even though all six of the plant’s reactors have been shut down. Energoatom said the generators were later switched off as main power weas restored.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been a focus for concern for months because of fears that shelling could lead to a radiation leak. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling.

IN FULL: Putin’s address to the nation

Russian President Putin gave his first address to the Russian nation since the start of his war in Ukraine this morning – mobilising his military reserves and issuing a fresh nuclear threat to the West.

The despot gave his own twisted version of the war to date, painting NATO as the aggressors, saying the Ukrainians are torturing their own civilians, and that Western leaders are plotting the destruction of Russia itself.

Here is his speech in full:

Citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk, the People’s republics of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and other people free from the Nazi regime. 

We will be talking about steps of protecting our sovereignty, the will and desire of our citizens to determine their own future, and about the aggressive bloc of Western countries that are trying to keep their supremacy at all costs – that are trying to block and suppress any independent centers of development in order to force their will in brutal ways on others. 

The aim of the West is to weaken, and destroy. They are openly saying that in ’91 they managed to split the Soviet Union and now is the time for Russia itself. 

Russia will be split into many regions and areas which are fighting each-other to the death. 

They had these plans for a long time. They supported bands of international terrorists in the Caucasus. They are encouraging NATO to come to our borders. There is total Russophobia and many years of total hate for Russia.

First and foremost this is in Urkaine. They made the Ukrainian people cannon fodder and pushed Ukraine into a war with our country

They started the war already in 2014, using the army against the civilian population, and organising genocide, a blockade and terror against people who refused to acknowledge Ukrainian power as a result of a military coup.

As usual, they refused a peaceful solution of the Donbas issue and started claiming the right to use nuclear weapons. It became clear as before, a second large offensive in Donbas is inevitable and the decision of a pre-emptive military operation was the only decision and absolutely necessary.

The main aim of freeing the whole of the Donbas remains without change. 

The Luhansk People’s Republic is fully cleared of the Nazis. The fight in the Donetsk People’s Republic continues.

The occupation regime has made deep line of defence and therefore the part of our army and Donbas military units are using technology and people, and are freeing the Donetsk People’s Republic step but step, village by village, and helping people turned into hostages by the criminal regime

As you know, the professional army is taking part in the special military operation, however volunteer units are fighting alongside them. 

They have different nationalities, professions and ages. They are true patriots, protecting Russia and Donbas through the call of their hearts.

The Ministry of Defence was instructed by me to determine as soon as possible the legal status of these areas and also the status of the units of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. 

They have to be the same as the professional military of the Russian army, including social guarantees, medical and financial supplies.

We need to pay special attention to the procurement of the units of the Donbas using technology and munitions.

Our army, based on the decisions of the Ministry of Defence and the general command, have freed from the neo-Nazis the considerable territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. 

As a result, there is a long line of military contact – over 1,000km.

At the Istanbul [peace negotiations with Ukraine] there was a very positive reaction to our proposals concerning ensuring the security of Russia

But it was obvious the West was not happy with a peaceful decision, so after reaching certain compromises Ukraine was effectively given the direct order to undermine the negotiations.

The Kyiv regime started using new bands of foreign mercenaries and nationalists, and the army was trained by NATO standards and actually commanded by western commanders.

The repression regime intensified across the whole of Ukraine by its military who, in 2014,used  the politics of terror and intimidation. It becomes more and more barbaric and terrible. 

The territories freed from the neo-Nazis and freed from the war, they are the Novorossiya lands we are talking about – Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporzhizhia regions – you have seen the barbarities of the neo-Nazis in the regions captured by them.

The Banderas [supporters of a far-right Ukrainian leader] and the Nazi mercenaries are torturing the peaceful citizens. 

In the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson over 7.5million people lived before the start of the operation.

Many were forced to become refugees, those who remained are constantly bombarded by rockets and artillery on the part of the neo-Nazis who attack hospitals, schools and create acts of terror against peaceful citizens

We have a moral right to give people that are dear to us, who are being tortured, we need to give them a chance to determine their own fate.

The parliament of the LPR, and the DPR, and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have decided to hold referendums on joining Russia and have asked Russia to support such a step. 

I stress that we will do all that we can to create safe conditions to hold the referendums, so people can express their will and decision about the future. They will be supported by us.

Dear friends, today our army is directing at the frontline exceeding 1000km, and they are facing not just the neo-Nazis but the collective military machine of the whole of the West. 

In this situation, I deem it is necessary to make the following decision which is appropriate to the threat we are facing.

In defence of our motherland, to ensure its safety, territorial integrity, security of our people and in the free territories I deem it necessary to support the decision of the Ministry of Defence and the general command for a partial mobilisation held in the Russian Federation. 

I stress that it is partial mobilisation. Only those who are currently in reserve will be conscripted, and also those who served in the army and have certain military skills. They will be given additional military training, taking into account the special military operation.

The decree has been signed, officially the chambers of the federal assembly and Duma will be informed. 

The mobilisation will start today on 21st September, I task the heads of regions to provide all necessary assistance to military commissioners. I stress that Russian citizens called up as part of mobilisation will be given all the guarantees, all the benefits of those serving under contract

The decree of partial mobilisation includes additional measures to safeguard the state procurement for the defence concerning military technology, and additional capacities for its production. 

All the financial matters for supplying defence factories shall be resolved without delay.

In its aggressive anti-Russian policies, the West has crossed all lines. 

We constantly hear threats against our people and some irresponsible politicians in the West are talking about not just providing Ukraine with long-range military systems that will be able to hit Russia – that is already happening, we’re talking about the border regions, in Belgorod and systems using strategic drones, planes, doing reconnaissance across the south.

There are plans in Washington and Brussels to move the military action on to Russian territory. 

There are not just talking about Russia being destroyed on the battlefield, they are talking about political, cultural, and all other types of sovereignty with complete pillage. Now they’re talking about nuclear blackmail.

The Zaporzhzhia nuclear power plant was shelled. Also the high representative of leading NATO states were saying that it might be permissible to use nuclear weapons against Russia.

Those who make such statements will be reminded that our country also has various weapons of destruction and with regard to certain components they are even more modern than the NATO ones.

If there is any threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to protect our people we will certainly use all means available to us. I’m not bluffing.

Russia citizens can be certain that the territorial integrity of our motherland, our independence and security will be assured. I shall stress – by all means available to us

And those trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the tables can turn on them

In our historic tradition our people had it in their destiny to stop those how are trying to subjugate our motherland and it will happen now. 

I believe in your support.

 

source: dailymail.co.uk