The West on Wednesday slapped back at Russian President Vladimir Putin following a threatening overnight address that prompted the U.K.’s top defense official to say “Ukraine is winning” no matter what rhetoric Moscow uses.
“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Wallace’s comments came after Putin expanded Russia’s fighting force by announcing a “partial mobilization” of all reservist and veterans for the war in Ukraine.
“Citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription,” he said in the early hours of Wednesday. “And above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience.”
The mobilization is set to begin Wednesday and comes as Russia has seen some significant losses in Ukraine, particularly following a counteroffensive Kyiv launched earlier this month.
“President Putin’s breaking of his own promises not to mobilize parts of his population and the illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine, are an admission that his invasion is failing,” Wallace said. “He and his defense minister have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill-equipped and badly led.”
It remains unclear how many soldiers or civilians have perished since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly seven months ago, but adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, Yuriy Sak, told Fox News Digital that during Kyiv’s counteroffensive in Kharkiv some “nine to 10” Russian soldiers were killed for every one Ukrainian soldier.
Putin echoed previous claims and blamed the West for the prolonged war in Ukraine – which officials have said he believed would be over in a matter of days.
In a seven-minute address Putin said the West “wants to destroy our country” and claimed NATO allies want to “turn Ukraine’s people into cannon fodder.”
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said in an unveiled threat against NATO which he accused of using “nuclear blackmail” without providing evidence to back up his claim.
“It’s not a bluff,” Putin added.
Russia also announced this week it will hold “referendums” to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink clapped back at Putin’s previously televised address and said, “Sham referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness, of Russian failure.”
“The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to purportedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she added.
Fox News Digital could not immediately reach NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for comment.
Fox News’ Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.