Below is the Russian transcript of Putin’s morning speech announcing a partial mobilization of Russia starting September 21. There is apparently not an official English translation up yet, and in any event, the Kremlin site is blocked in the US (which it hasn’t been since early in the Special Military Operation) and even to friendly VPN users in some countries in Asia. So we are also posting a machine translation and will replace it with an official English translation when one becomes available. Update 6:30 AM EDT: official translation now posted below.
We are also posting an English version of the mobilization order, which here and apparently in the original Russian has Item 7 missing. You can theoretically find the order here: http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69391
What makes the partial mobilization a partial mobilization that it targets only experienced personnel, as in those who have served and have a military specialty.
As you can see, Putin refines and extends his critique of the “collective West” and its campaign to preserve the unipolar order at the expense of the Global South, and its campaign against Russia. Towards the end, Putin states:
In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line. We constantly hear threats against our country, our people. Some irresponsible politicians in the West not only talk about plans to organize the supply of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine – systems that will allow strikes against the Crimea and other regions of Russia.
Such terrorist strikes, including with the use of Western weapons, are already being carried out on the border settlements of the Belgorod and Kursk regions. In real time, using modern systems, aircraft, ships, satellites, strategic drones, NATO carries out reconnaissance throughout southern Russia.
In Washington, London, Brussels, they are directly pushing Kyiv to transfer military operations to our territory. No longer hiding, they say that Russia should be defeated by all means on the battlefield, followed by the deprivation of political, economic, cultural, in general, any sovereignty, with the complete plunder of our country.
Nuclear blackmail was also launched. We are talking not only about the shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is encouraged by the West, which threatens a nuclear catastrophe, but also about the statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia – nuclear weapons.
For those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for some components more modern than those of the NATO countries.
And if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff.
A video that oddly omits the first two paragraphs of Putin’s speech:
I have yet to find much out about Sergey Shoigu’s speech. If I get a transcript, I will update the post and embed it below.
I must confess to not having a good feeling about the timing, even aside from the fact that the speech was hastily announced (as Moon of Alabama pointed out) and then completely out of character, rescheduled.
Despite the bad look of the much over-hyped Kharkiv offensive, Russia looked to be able to sustain operations at pretty much current levels, particularly given the return of the Chechens, the in-process amping up of the Wagner Group, and the addition of the mysterious Third Group to the militia forces, while they finished clearing Donbass. That would mean Russia would continue grinding down Ukraine forces from more or less current positions.
The better time to increase operations would have been later…when the weather changed (both fall mud and winter cold favor Russian equipment over Ukraine’s and the West’s) and when the EU would be in even worse condition as its refusal to open Nord Stream 2 resulted in more and more damage to the core of European economies.
So why the rush?
It could be that Putin and his fellow officials felt pressured by the domestic reaction to the Kharkiv counteroffensive to Do Something, and something pretty big. But this would point to a major failure to manage public relations and expectations in Russia. The evidence keeps growing that the Kharkiv counter-offensive at best caught the tail end of a planned Russian retreat. Even so, Russia incurred very few losses, inflicted quite a few on Ukraine and the mercenaries along for the ride, and has held the line at the Oskil River. There are claims that they were evacuating locals well and closely before the counter-offensive. Yet from what I understand, no one in an official capacity felt compelled to present the Russia version of what happened, even after the troops were out. Sooner in this sort of situation is better than later, since early impressions harden quickly.
A second theory is the Western forces are planning a big-before-mud-season operation and Putin felt he needed to overprepare so as not to be accused of failing to take the gloves off after Kharkiv. Putin can’t well take another high profile even if ultimately not-very-consequential setback.
A third is as reported elsewhere, the various liberated territories are pressing for earlier rather than later referenda to join Russia. Announcing that would also be seen as a major escalation and would serve as the basis for unleashing more terrorist-style attacks against civilians in those areas and Russia. So the muscling up could also be to provide more protection in the major cities in those areas.
Upon further reflection, at 7 AM, a forth reason could be that Russia assessed how many mercenaries the West might round up to augment Ukraine forces and decided they needed more manpower to prosecute a winter offensive, particularly since the most likely target, Odessa, would result in Russia having to defend an even longer front line than now. But the haste seems inconsistent with this factor being a main driver.
Nevertheless, even though a move along these lines may have been inevitable, Ukraine forces and Europe’s economies were weakening. I can’t prove it but from my very far remove, the timing looks sub-optimal. But perhaps we’ll get some clues as to what caused the rush.00 Putin 9-21 Speech Official translation
00 Putin's 9-21 Mobilization Address (in Russian)
00 Text of Russia September 21 partial mobilization order