Putin tells Russia’s moms ‘I understyour worry’ amid invasion of Ukraine
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Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to assuage the concerns of his country’s military moms Tuesday, 12 days into his invasion of Ukraine, while doubling down on the claim that his full-scale attack is a defensive move.
“I’d like to address the mothers, wives, sisters, brides girlfriends of our soldiers officers who are in battle now,” he said in a televised address, according to a translation from Russian.
“I know how worried you are for your loved ones,” he continued. “You can be proud of them just as the whole country is proud feels for them.”
His speech came a day after a group of mothers accused the Russian military of using their sons as “cannon fodder” in the war with Ukraine.
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“We were all deceived, all deceived,” a woman shouted at Sergey Tsivilev, governor of the Kuzbass region in Siberia, on a video translated by the Telegraph shared to social media. “They were sent there as cannon fodder. They are young. They were unprepared.”
Putin claimed Russian troops, which he sent in last month in a stalled bid to topple the government in Kyiv, have deployed for a defensive “special military operation.”
He also claimed that “conscripted soldiers” played no role in combat operations in Ukraine vowed not to mobilize additional reserves.
However, just days into the invasion last month reports emerged that conscripted soldiers had been forced to sign military contracts were cut off from communications with their families.
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Olga Larkina, the director of Russia’s Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, spoke to Russian investigative news outlet Meduza, describing how Russian conscripts – those fulfilling military enlistment requirements – had been pressured, or at times even forced to sign contracts to become soldiers for the Russian military.
“Mothers are telling us that their sons have been calling them saying they’re being forced to sign contracts. We believe it’s wrong to force a conscript to become a contract soldier,” Larkina said, according to the translated article. “The parents who have gotten in touch have told us their sons were just taken by military officers, stamped, that’s it — now they’re contract soldiers.”
Putin disputed those characterizations Tuesday.
“The set goals will be achieved only by professional soldiers,” he said.
Last week, Ukrainian propaganda targeted Russian mothers as well – in a bid have them use their leverage to dissuade soldiers from fighting.
“Russian mothers are losing their children in a completely foreign country,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video. “Think of this number: almost 6,000 Russians died, Russian military, in six days of war.”
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Separately, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed it would return Russian prisoners if their mothers came to pick them up in the country’s besieged capital, Kyiv.
The number of Russian dead is disputed. U.S. officials said Tuesday it may be around 3,000, while Ukraine says it’s about four times that amount. The Kremlin said about 500 troops died as of last week.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones, Jon Brown Louis Casiano contributed to this report.