Ukraine war: Putin tells Russian soldiers’ mothers he shares their pain
“We share your pain,” Russian President Vladimir Putin has told a group of mothers of Russian soldiers who have been fighting – and some of whom have been killed – in Ukraine.
“Nothing can replace the loss of a son”, he said in his opening remarks, before the footage on state TV was cut.
Reports that the mothers were carefully picked for the conference have gone unremarked by the Kremlin. The backlash against Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been mounting.
Mothers of serving soldiers are openly complaining about the fact that their boys are being sent into fight with inadequate equipment and training, particularly as winter approaches.
Following a number of significant military defeats in recent months, some have also claimed that the Russian military is using civilians who were forcibly mobilised as “cannon fodder.”
In a rare acknowledgment, the Kremlin acknowledged that its efforts to mobilise army reservists had been flawed in September.
The most senior US general, Mark Milley, estimated earlier this month that since the war started on February 24, around 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or injured. Mr. Putin was pictured seated at a huge table with a group of 17 mothers at the meeting on Friday at his state estate outside of Moscow. Some of them donned mourning accessories like dark headscarves.
The president stated, “I want you to know that I personally, and all the leadership of the country, we share your anguish.
He continued, warning them not to trust “fakes” and “falsehoods” about the raging battle depicted on TV or the internet, saying, “We’ll be doing everything so you won’t be feeling forgotten.”
Soon after Mr Putin launched the full-scale invasion, Russian authorities brought in tough censorship laws against the media, criminalising “dissemination of false information” about its armed forces.
Media outlets face fines or even closure for calling it a war – the Kremlin describes the invasion as a “special military operation”.
That means balanced news can be difficult to get in Russia, leading some people to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass the biased state-run media coverage.
On Friday, President Putin also said he had wanted to meet the mothers to hear from them first-hand about the situation on the ground.
And he revealed that from time to time he was speaking directly to Russian soldiers on the battlefield, describing them as “heroes”.
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