Russia's President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial military mobilization in the Russian Federation, according to the Tass news agency.
In a televised address, Putin said he had signed a decree on partial mobilization, due to begin on Wednesday, stressing that he was taking necessary steps to protect Russia's sovereignty as the West is looking to "weaken" and "destroy" the country.
“We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience,” Putin said.
The decision to partially mobilize is “fully adequate to the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories,” he added.
The Russian president said his aim was to "liberate" east Ukraine's Donbas region, and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the "yoke" of Ukraine.
He also accused the West of ordering Ukraine to undermine peace talks with Moscow, saying the West would not be "happy with a peaceful" solution to the conflict.
Putin’s address to the nation came a day after four Ukrainian regions announced plans to hold referendums to join Russia in a matter of days, mirroring the move that was taken by the former Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014, which led to its incorporation into the Russian Federation.
Speaking on Tuesday, the pro-Russian leaders of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, the southern region of Kherson, and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia announced that they were planning to hold the votes as soon as Friday.
Also in 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk, which together form the Donbass region, broke away from Ukraine. Back in February, Putin signed a decree recognizing the two regions as “independent republics.”
Later that month, Russia launched "a special military operation" aimed at “demilitarizing” the Donbass. Announcing the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
The operation then expanded to involve Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
(This is a developing story.)