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Ukraine war: Putin meets mothers of Russian soldiers

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President Vladimir Putin has met with more than a dozen mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

Putin, who met the women to mark Sunday’s Russian Mother’s Day, was shown in a short pre-recorded broadcast on state television sitting with 17 of them around a table laden with tea, cakes and bowls of fresh berries at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

Putin said he understood the anxiety and concern of soldiers’ mothers – and the pain of those who had lost sons in Ukraine.

“I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country – we 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 frequently clearing his throat. “We share this pain.”

The mothers listened to what appeared to be Putin’s introductory remarks but their comments to him were not immediately shown.

In what appeared to be an attempt to counter online reporting about Russian forces’ problems in the war, Putin urged the mothers to distrust the internet.

“You can’t trust anything there at all, there are all sorts of fakes, deception, lies,” Putin said.

Also Read: Putin accuses the West of nuclear blackmail

He praised their sons for defending what he called Novorossiya, literally “new Russia”, a loaded term from the tsarist empire that modern Russian nationalists use to describe a swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine that Russia now claims.

Putin said he sometimes called Russian soldiers at the front, and that their words had made them heroes in his eyes.

But some relatives of soldiers killed in the war said the Kremlin had ignored their pleas for a meeting.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians have been sent to fight in Ukraine – including some of the more than 300,000 who were called up as part of a mobilisation announced by Putin in September.

The war in Ukraine has killed or wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States.

The Russian invasion has also triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters
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