- Putin meets soldiers’ mothers, some of whom are bereaved
- Putin: “Me personally, and all management, share your pain”
- Russia did not fully enumerate its battlefield losses
- Some mothers say the Kremlin is ignoring more critical parent groups
LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin met more than a dozen mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine on Friday, telling those who had lost sons that he and the entire leadership shared their suffering.
The war in ukraine killed or injured tens of thousands of troops on both sides, according to the United States, and the Russian invasion sparked the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Hundreds of thousands of Russians have been sent to fight in Ukraine – including some of the more than 300,000 who have been called up as part of a mobilization announced by Putin in September.
Meeting 17 women at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow to mark Russian Mother’s Day on Sunday, Putin was shown in a short pre-recorded clip sitting with them around a table laden with tea, cakes and bowls of fresh berries. Many smiled as Putin entered.
Putin said he understood the anxiety and worry of soldiers’ mothers – and the pain of those who had lost sons in Ukraine.
“I would like you to know that I personally, and all of the country’s leaders, share your pain,” Putin said.
“We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son – especially for a mother,” he added, breathing heavily and clearing his throat frequently. “We share this pain.”
The mothers listened to what appeared to be Putin’s opening remarks, but their comments were not immediately shown to him.
Putin says he has no regrets launching what he calls Russia’s ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine and presents the war as a turning point when Russia finally resisted a hegemony arrogant Westerner after decades of humiliation in the years following the fall of the Union in 1991. Soviet Union.
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they present as an imperial-style war of conquest. Ukraine says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is banished.
“FALSE, DECEPTION, LIES”
In what appeared to be an attempt to counter online reporting of Russian forces’ problems during the war, Putin urged mothers to be wary of the internet.
“You can’t trust anything there at all, there are all kinds of fakes, deceptions, lies,” Putin said.
He praised their sons for standing up for what he called Novorossiya, literally “the new Russia”, a czarist empire-laden term that modern Russian nationalists use to describe part of southern and eastern Russia. Ukraine that Russia now claims.
Putin said he sometimes called Russian soldiers to the front and their words made them heroes in his eyes.
But some relatives of soldiers killed in the war said the Kremlin ignored their calls for a meeting.
“Mothers will ask the ‘correct’ questions that have been agreed upon beforehand,” Olga Tsukanova, head of the Mothers and Wives Council, said in a Telegram message ahead of the meeting.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich – are you a man or who are you? Do you have the courage to meet us face to face, openly, not with pre-agreed wives and mothers who are in your pocket, but with real women who have traveled from different cities here to meet you? We are waiting for your response,” said Tsukanova.
Russia last publicly revealed its losses in the war on September 21, when Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 5,937 Russian troops had been killed. kill. This number is well below most international estimates.
The US Chief General estimated on November 9 that Russia and Ukraine had each seen more than 100,000 of their troops killed or injured. Ukraine does not disclose its losses.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey
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