Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine reaches nearly seven months.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Putin said he was defending Russian territories and that the West wanted to destroy the country.

Putin said he has signed a decree on the partial mobilization, which is due to start later on Wednesday.

Putin’s address comes a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold referendums on becoming integral parts of Russia.

The referendums, which have been expected to take place since the first months of the war, will start on Friday.