Day 208 of the Ukraine invasion: Putin could announce a general mobilization in an expected speech

Tuesday was a day that, in retrospect, could become one of the most crucial in Russia’s war against Ukraine. All of the areas or parts of Ukraine still occupied by Russia (Luhansk, Donetsk, Cherson and Zaporizhia) have announced that they will hold votes on joining Russia as early as Friday.

The result is actually already clear: They will want to join Russia, and Russia’s parliament will grant it in a timely manner. At least that’s the most likely scenario right now.

A speech by the Russian President was expected for Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. Defense Minister Shoigu was also scheduled to speak. By late evening, however, the speeches had still not taken place until reports came that the speech had been postponed to Wednesday. The reasons are unclear.

Observers assume that Putin could also announce or hint at a general mobilization in the speech. For that to happen, however, Russia would have to officially declare war on Ukraine, or declare itself at war. The annexations of the occupied territories could provide the pretext for a declaration of war. Putin recently stated that the country is far from using all of its military forces in Ukraine.

Kyiv reacted rather calmly to the announcements, calling them another indication of Russia’s desperation. In fact, Ukrainian troops are still advancing both to the east and to the south. A complete collapse of the Russian front is at least no longer impossible. Would that be delayed or prevented if the occupied territories join Russia? That will be the key question after what could be a pivotal day.

The most important news of the day at a glance:

  • According to British intelligence, Russia has withdrawn its Kilo-class submarines from the annexed Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. The reason: The Ukrainians could now attack better over long distances. Read more about this here.
  • In an interview with the US broadcaster PBS, the Turkish President spoke about the war in Ukraine. Recep Tayyip Erdogan stresses that all Russian-occupied territories must be returned, including Crimea. You can find out more about what was said in the interview here.
  • According to a report, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck is questioning the gas surcharge. Habeck made this clear in an internal meeting of the Greens last week, reported the ARD capital studio. More about this here.
  • In Russia, various offenses by soldiers are to be punished more severely in the future. Russia’s lower house, the Duma, passes a law on second and third readings that provides for tougher penalties for desertion, disobedience and damage to military installations. More on this in our news blog.
  • Deutsche Bahn is helping the Ukrainian Railways (UZ) to rebuild. Both sides have signed a declaration of intent in Berlin, as the Bahn (DB) reports. The contract guarantees UZ assistance in post-war reconstruction and cooperation in expanding freight corridors and so-called terminal capacities. Advisory services are also planned for the introduction of European standards for rail operations and management.
  • Against the background of the Russian war against Ukraine, the ruler of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, ordered the mobilization of all security organs and a further tightening of the laws. “If we have to put a military unit on alert under the laws of war, then we have to do it,” Lukashenko said Tuesday at a meeting with Secretary of the National Security Council Alexander Wolfovich, according to the Minsk state news agency Belta.
  • In the event of a large-scale annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russia, the Estonian President believes a debate about further deliveries of heavy weapons such as battle tanks is necessary. An attempted incorporation of the “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and the Kherson region “probably also changes the situation in Europe and the understanding of what we should do,” Head of State Alar Karis told the German Press Agency on Tuesday.
  • According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, it has no way of verifying reports of alleged Russian war crimes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum. The background to this is that the Ministry of Defense in Kyiv has withdrawn the organization’s accreditation, an Amnesty spokesman said at the request of the German Press Agency on Tuesday.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed concern at the discovery of numerous bodies in Ukraine. “The latest reports of burial sites in Izyum are extremely worrying,” Guterres said on Tuesday at the start of the 77th general debate at the UN General Assembly.
  • Ahead of her speech at the UN General Assembly, British Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged at least £2.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine next year. British support will reach at least the same amount as this year, she announced.
  • Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock blames Russia for the rocket attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant. Before leaving for the UN General Assembly, she said it would be about the situation in Ukraine, “which Russia is using as a bargaining chip in this war.”
  • According to a report, the Russian investigative authorities have arrested the director of a large armaments factory on suspicion of fraud. “Yuri Shumsky, director general of the state-owned Sverdlov Plant, one of the largest explosives manufacturing companies in the country, has been arrested,” wrote the daily Kommersant.
  • Despite gas deliveries from Russia being stopped at the end of August, German gas storage facilities are now more than 90 percent full. This emerges from data published by European storage operators on Monday evening.

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