Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial mobilisation in Russia as the war in Ukraine approaches the seven-month mark.

Mr Putin also warned the West that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory, saying: “It’s not a bluff.”

He accused the West in engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.

And he added: “To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of Nato countries, and 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.”

READ MORE: Appeal to bring home body of man killed in action in Ukraine

Mr Putin’s speech came in a televised address to the Russian nation a day after occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes 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 recent Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.

The referendums will start on Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas.

HeraldScotland: PAPA

The war in Ukraine has dragged on for seven months

Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan called Mr Putin's declaration a “worrying escalation,” and also urged for calm in the face of threats in his speech to use nuclear weapons.

She told Sky News: “Some of the language there was quite concerning at the end and obviously we would urge for calm.”

The Chichester MP also said: “It’s something that we should take very seriously because, you know, we’re not in control.

“I’m not sure he’s in control either really. I mean, this is obviously an escalation and, of course, for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war.”

READ MORE: Putin and Xi’s awkward meeting was certainly not one of equals

Ms Keegan later said discussions will continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine war.

She was asked whether such a solution could still happen and whether channels are open between Moscow and London.

The Chichester MP told BBC Breakfast: “There will always be discussions that will be going on either via Ukraine or other countries as well. or directly, so we will continue to urge calm and we will continue to have those discussions where possible.”

Asked where this goes now, she said: “I don’t know where it goes. I mean, obviously, the big news for the Russian people is some of them will be conscripted as reservists, etc.

“To date, I think Russia have lost about 55,000 of their troops. That’s a lot of people who have already given their lives in this war from Russia.”

Melinda Simmons, Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine, wrote on Twitter: “Watched Putin’s speech. He still refuses to understand Ukraine. Partial mobilisation and sham referenda don’t change that essential weakness.”