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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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President Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian mobilization to fight in Ukraine on Wednesday and made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons, in what NATO called a “reckless” act of desperation in the face of Russia’s looming defeat.

DIPLOMACY/POLITICS

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* “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people – this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation.

* Russia’s mobilization was a predictable step that will prove extremely unpopular and underscores that the war is not going according to Moscow’s plan, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

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* Western allies responded by saying the move showed Russia’s campaign in Ukraine was failing. The allies pledged further support for Ukraine.

* Pro-Russian figures on Tuesday announced referendums for Sept. 23-27 in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing around 15% of Ukrainian territory, or an area about the size of Hungary.

* Speaking shortly after Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia would draft some 300,000 additional personnel out of some 25 million potential fighters at Moscow’s disposal.

* In Moscow’s first update on casualty numbers in almost six months, Shoigu also said 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the conflict.

* U.S. President Joe Biden will try to rally the world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

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ECONOMY/MARKETS

* Germany nationalized gas importer Uniper on Wednesday and Britain capped the wholesale cost of electricity and gas for businesses, in Europe’s latest moves to keep the lights on and heaters running this winter as the war in Ukraine escalates.

* Global equities shook off an early knock to risk appetite and rebounded on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail,” sparking a brief flight to safe-haven assets like gold and bonds.

* The rouble recovered from two months lows and Russian stocks pared losses on Wednesday after earlier plunges triggered by President Vladimir Putin’s move to order Russia’s first military mobilization since World War Two.

QUOTES

* “Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them,” Putin said in the televised address.

* “The speech is an escalation but it is also not a surprise,” NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said of Putin’s remarks. “Therefore, we have been prepared. We will stay calm and continue to provide the support to the Ukraine. The speech of President Putin demonstrates that the war is not going according to President Putin’s plans. He has made a big miscalculation.”

(Compiled by Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry)

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