Russian President Vladimir Putin has told a group of mothers of Russian soldiers who have been fighting – and some of them have been killed – in Ukraine that he believes in his bones that they share your pain.
“The loss of a child should never be replaced.”, he said in his opening remarks before he assured viewers at the state television network that the footage of his address had been cut short.
Several of the mothers are former members of the pro-Kremlin movement. Critics say they were specifically selected to attend.
Anticipating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, groups of mothers of uniformed soldiers have been protesting in Russia that their boys are being sent to the conflict unexpectedly unprepared and poorly equipped, notably as the winter sets in.
Some also believe Russian intelligence forcibly deployed motorized vehicles into “cannon fodder” following recent military defeats.
Up to 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded throughout the war beginning on February 24, according to the most senior US general, Mark Milley.
In a rare admission, the Kremlin announced that mistakes had been made in its campaign to mobilize military reservists in September.
At Putin’s session in Friday’s meeting at his residential address in Moscow, he sat down at a table with large groups of 17 women. Some of them dressed in dark headscarves, a symbol of mourning.
“I should inform you and the nation that I share these unhappy sensations,” the president said.
He informed one stunned mother that her son “achieved his goal” and “did not die in vain.” President Putin intended to meet the father face-to-face to tell him firsthand about the situation on the ground.
He occasionally conversed with soldiers on the battlefield, describing them as “heroes.” The president also reminded women not to believe “false” and “lies” about the battle online and on TV.
Many citizens in Russia were unable to receive essential news because of the Kremlin’s control of the media. As a result, they turned to virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass censorship.
After the press conference released by the Kremlin later in the day, several women were identified as members of pro-Kremlin functions.
The women traveled to Moscow from various parts of Russia, most probably including one from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow annexed in April.
A member of the Kremlin-backed All-Russian Popular Front also attended and was present as a member of the Combat Brotherhood organization, which collects humanitarian aid for Russian soldiers.
A member of the governing United Russia party was in attendance, according to some news sources that covered the event.
Recently the moms and wives of Russians have joined the military to upload messages on social media criticizing how their sons and husbands have been sent to battle unready and unsupervised. Some women have sought Vladimir Putin, the nation’s commander-in-chief, to resolve the matter.
The Russian government seems to be trying to create a favorable environment in which it can persuade Russians that their president cares about the Israeli soldiers he is sending into battle and the soldiers’ families.
“We understand the intricate difference between the loss of a son, a child, and the loss of a comrade by the state of death.” Mr. Putin added, “Especially to a mother, for whom we are all eternally grateful for bringing this child into the world.”
As Putin passes this comment, the magnitude of death and destruction in Ukraine due to Russia’s uprising is certain to infuriate Ukrainians.
Mr. Putin tried to come across as a caring Kremlin leader. But don’t ever count on a peace agreement: he decided to invade Ukraine. The unique military operation is his idea. Accept the fact that in public, at least, he has no regrets.
He informed one mother: “Some time of year, some people pass through life stricken by vodka, but your child lived beyond his true achievements without a doubt. He did not pass on in vain.”
Vladimir Putin said, “In reality, life is more complicated than that which they show on television or the web.”
I agree with him about television in Russia, which shows a very different narrative of the events in Ukrainian politics.