Russia’s Putin comforts mothers of soldiers fighting in Ukraine


As anger over the drawn-out invasion simmers in Russia, President Vladimir Putin on Friday held his first public assembly of the nine-month-long battle with mothers of soldiers who had been fighting in Ukraine, a transfer possible geared toward quelling discontent.

In a clip broadcast by Russian state media, Putin is seen sitting down with a gaggle of girls round a desk adorned with ornate tea cups and recent berries for a chat coinciding with Russian Mother’s Day.

“I want you to know that I personally, the entire leadership of the country, we share your pain,” Putin mentioned, pausing and clearing his throat. “We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son, a child, especially for the mother, to whom we all owe the birth.”

“I want you to know that we share this pain with you and, of course, we will do everything so that you do not feel forgotten,” Putin added.

Angry families say Russian conscripts thrown to front line unprepared

He advised one mom whose son died in Ukraine that “we are all mortal, and someday we will all leave this world.”

“It’s unavoidable. The question is how we lived,” Putin mentioned. “Some die and it’s not even noticeable … But your son lived. His goal has been achieved. In this sense, of course, his life turned out to be significant, with a result.”

The assembly comes as grievances of bizarre Russians, particularly those that have been lately mobilized to replenish depleted ranks, are beginning to enter the general public house, regardless of the grave authorized penalties for criticizing the battle.

In current months, dozens of movies recorded by soldiers or their relations have emerged on-line, decrying the current mobilization and abysmal conditions some soldiers discover themselves in on the entrance line, with low morale, poor tools and lack of clear technique on the battlefield.

The soldiers spoke of being deserted by commanders and compelled to wander in the woods with out meals or reinforcements. Some contract soldiers referred to as up earlier in the marketing campaign as half of common forces complained they had been exhausted and hadn’t been rotated out for months on finish.

The mobilization effort, which formally lasted for a few month and a half, noticed a reported 318,000 recruits thrown into battle as Russia tries to carry floor in opposition to a two-pronged Ukrainian counteroffensive forward of the chilly winter that may additional complicate fight.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon’s high normal, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, mentioned that over 100,000 Russian troops had been believed to have been killed or injured for the reason that Feb. 24 invasion. Tens of thousands of men have left the country to keep away from being drafted. The Russian Defense Ministry formally claimed it misplaced round 6,000 soldiers as of September this yr and hasn’t up to date the numbers since.

Putin used the assembly as a chance to reiterate the acquainted listing of accusations in opposition to the West, which he mentioned makes use of Ukrainians “as cannon fodder” in the struggle in opposition to Russia.

“This is not an exaggeration, they don’t care about the losses and they just shoot those who don’t behave the right way in front of other soldiers, those who refuse to fight,” Putin claimed with out proof. “They have a different moral attitude and this just once again proves we are dealing with a neo-Nazi regime.”

Fighting-age men in Russia are still hiding in fear of being sent to war

Even earlier than the Friday assembly, Russian activists forged doubt on whether or not the Kremlin would enable a frank dialog with mothers and wives whose family members are lacking or lifeless.

Groups just like the Council of Mothers and Wives, which has pleaded with officers to finish mobilization and produce the lads again house, and the veteran advocacy group the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, which processes hundreds of complaints from soldiers and their members of the family, weren’t invited. The Kremlin solely broadcast components of the assembly and it wasn’t dwell.

“We are not at all interested in this,” Valentina Melnikova, the secretary of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, mentioned when requested if her group would’ve despatched a consultant if invited. Melnikova mentioned in an interview final week that the quantity of calls the committee acquired after mobilization was introduced elevated by “100 times.”

The group has been lively for over twenty years, serving to determined mothers find their sons in the course of the Chechen wars. Melnikova recalled how again then mother and father managed to creep into navy models and smuggle out dozens of conscripts, one thing unimaginable in 2022 because the Kremlin wields a a lot tighter grip on energy and navy buildings.

“We told parents, ‘Go and get them. You can kidnap them, you can get them out through a hole in the fence. You can bribe an officer, give him cognac,’ ” she mentioned. “Now things are different, it’s a different state with different laws. It’s a totally different generation. I was sure my children’s generation who grew up on the internet would be independent and wouldn’t be influenced by propaganda so much. But they don’t care one bit.”

“It’s crazy that the conversation is still not public, even with the mothers who were cleared to see Putin,” the Council of Mothers and Wives mentioned in a publish on the group’s Telegram weblog. “Are they scared that some mothers will still blurt something out?”

The co-head of the council, Olga Tsukanova, has a 20-year-old son who’s a conscript in the southern Astrakhan area of Russia. Tsukanova says his commanders tried twice to ship him to Ukraine regardless of the Kremlin assurances that younger, inexperienced males present process obligatory service received’t be concerned.

The make-up of attendees to the televised assembly urged it was orchestrated to keep away from any outbursts of public anger in Putin’s presence, as girls in the room had been primarily functionaries from pro-government actions, mid-level officers, and members of the ruling United Russia get together arrange by Putin himself.

One of the company, Nadezhda Uzunova, is the regional chief of “Brothers in Arms” group that aids Russian soldiers in Ukraine, who lately spoke at a Kremlin-organized live performance on the Red Square in Moscow in help of the unlawful annexation of 4 jap Ukrainian areas.

“Like every Russian mother, I, of course, worry about my children. But fear kills faster than a bullet, and we should not be afraid but instead we need to unite and consolidate the feminine energy, the feminine power that we have to create that reliable rear,” Uzunova mentioned from the stage on the time.

Another attendee, Zharadat Agueva, has two sons who’re each fighting in Ukraine: Ismail is the high-ranking commander of the Chechen Zapad-Akhmat battalion and Rustam is the pinnacle of a police division in the republic, infamous for abuses in opposition to detainees.

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