Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has responded to threats made by Vladimir Putin on Wednesday by saying the Russian leader was acting in a panic and that the ‘rhetoric had been heard before’.
In a televised address, Putin announced the ‘partial mobilisation’ of Russia by calling up 300,000 military reservists and threatened with nuclear weapons, telling his audience that ‘I am not bluffing’.
He also voiced support for referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine about joining the Russian Federation, accusing the west of starting a war against Russia in Ukraine in 2014.
‘Ukraine is starting to be successful against Russia, with western support,’ Rutte said, ahead of the first day of debate on the 2023 budget. The various measures unveiled by Putin are ‘a kind of panic reaction’ to that, Rutte said.
The prime minister also dismissed Putin’s warning about nuclear weapons, saying it had been heard before and ‘leaves us as cold as Siberia’.
Nevertheless, parts of Ukraine the size of Hungary are still occupied by the Russians, he said. ‘It is certainly not over. We have to stay sharp, we have to keep supporting Ukraine.’
Other EU leaders have also been reacting to Putin’s statement. Czech prime minister Petr Fiala says the partial mobilisation ‘is an attempt to further escalate the war Russia launched against Ukraine’ and ‘further proof that Russia is the sole aggressor’.
Germany’s vice chancellor Robert Habeck said the mobilisation was ‘another bad and wrong step from Russia’, the BBC reported.
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