Separatists in Ukraine sign ‘mobilization’ decrees amid threat of invasion

Russian-backed separatist leaders in two territories in Ukraine have called for general mobilization of able-bodied men in the region to take up arms amid fears of a Russian invasion in the country. 

Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, announced in a video posted Saturday that he had signed a decree for a “general mobilization,” a move that activates military reserves and appeals to able-bodied men. 

“I appeal to all the men of the republic, who are able to hold weapons in their hands, to stand up for their families, children, wives, mothers,” Pushilin said, according to a translation from The Washington Post. “Together we will achieve victory, we will protect the Donbas and all Russian people.” 

Another separatist leader, Leonid Pasechnik, signed a similar order, the Post reported, citing Russian state media. The state media reported that the order banned men 55 and younger from leaving the area and allowed authorities of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic to use properties and resources for defense needs. 

The news is the latest in a saga of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. 

In his video address on Saturday, Pushilin stated that the call to arms was in response to aggression from Kyiv. 

President Biden said Friday that he is “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine.

“As of this moment I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday, delivering an update on the situation. 

Russia has amassed close to 200,000 troops at its border with Ukraine, an increase from previous weeks. The Russian government had claimed that it had drawn down forces at the border earlier this week and that it did not intend to invade Ukraine. However, U.S. and NATO officials said that they saw no evidence of a drawdown. 

Biden said Friday that Russia was looking for a pretext to invade Ukraine and cited the shelling of a Ukrainian kindergarten by Russian-backed separatists and “fabricated claims” of impending aggression from the country against Russia. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Putin would receive a “swift and firm” response if Russia recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine as independent. Doing so, he said, would violate the Minsk agreement, an effort agreed to in 2015 to halt fighting between separatists and Ukrainian forces. 

Russia recognizing the regions as independent could provide a pretext for the Kremlin to invade and aid an ally. 

Tags Antony Blinken Donetsk region Eastern Ukraine Joe Biden Russia-Ukraine conflict Vladimir Putin

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