Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of about 300,000 reservists amid losses in Ukraine, The Associated Press reports.
Putin made the announcement in a televised address to the nation, ordering the country’s first mobilization since World War II.
Putin also warned that he is not bluffing about using all of the tools at Russia’s disposal in a veiled reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia reversed on the mobilization because NATO members have supplied weapons to Ukraine.
The partial mobilization came a day after Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine announced annexation votes to join Russia.
The order sparked protests and drove an increase in airplane tickets out of the country.
The Vesna opposition movement announced nationwide protests.
“Thousands of Russian men -- our fathers, brothers and husbands -- will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?” the group said.
Moscow’s top prosecutor responded to calls for protests by warning that such actions could result in up to 15 years in prison.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Putin’s order came “because Russia is losing ground on the battlefield.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the speech is “definitely a sign that he’s struggling, and we know that.”
NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters that the alliance would "not engage in that same kind of reckless and dangerous nuclear rhetoric as President Putin."
"The speech of President Putin demonstrates that the war is not going according to President Putin's plans. He has made a big miscalculation," Stoltenberg said.