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Putin Orders First Russian Troop Mobilization Since World War II

Following military setbacks as Ukraine succeeded in retaking swathes of Russian-occupied territory last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of troops that could signal an escalation of the war. 

Until now, Putin has avoided the mobilization of troops, which would take the conflict beyond what Moscow has consistently referred to only as a “special operation”. 

A troop mobilization is a declaration of war, and the partial mobilization involves 300,000 military reservists, according to the BBC, but there are few details about the nature of the mobilization itself. 

This will be the first mobilization called since World War II. 

The move comes after a Ukrainian military offensive succeeded in retaking key positions in the Kharkiv region from Russian forces, and as it continues to push forward to recapture key areas in the Kherson region. 

The move also lays bare the weaknesses of the Russian military and the difficulties that lie ahead for Putin at home, where a mobilization–even if partial–is likely to lead to unrest. 

According to The Moscow Times, thousands of conscription-age Russian men are now attempting to flee the country, with a sudden uptick in ticket sales for flights from Russia to Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan on Wednesday. 

The English-language daily also reported that dozens of people had been detained across the country on Wednesday amid protests against the mobilization. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin also raised the nuclear threat in a televised address, saying Russia would use any means to protect its territory, referring to occupied territory in Ukraine. 

Oil prices have pared some losses on fears of an escalation of the war after Putin’s mobilization announcement. 

At 12:50 p.m. EST, Brent crude was trading at $90.01, down 0.67% on the day, while WTI was trading at $83.28, down 0.79% on the day. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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