Inside Story

Is Russia raising the stakes in the war in Ukraine?

President Putin calls up reservists and voices support for referendums on occupied areas joining Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia’s first military mobilisation since World War II.

The move could see up to 300,000 reservists being called up to fight in Ukraine.

The Russian leader made the announcement in an address broadcast on Wednesday, after Russian forces suffered setbacks against Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east in recent weeks.

Putin also gave his full support to referenda on occupied areas joining Russia, saying the votes are needed to protect civilians from the “neo-Nazi” government of Ukraine.

Separatists in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia plan to hold the votes from Friday.

A similar referendum in Russian-annexed Crimea in 2014 was widely criticised as illegal.

Will Russia’s moves raise the stakes in the seven-month war?

Presenter: Imran Khan


Sergei Markov – Director, Institute of Political Studies and former public spokesman for President Vladimir Putin

Donnacha O Beachain – Professor, Dublin City University

Michael Bociurkiw – Senior fellow, Atlantic Council