MOSCOW, Sep 21 (Aljazeera) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial mobilisation 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’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 Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.

The referendums, which have been expected to take since the first months of the war, will start on Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

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

“We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military specialty and relevant experience,” he said.