The Russian president meets a delegation of women whose children are at war: “Don’t believe the fake news”
“No regrets about starting the special military operation in Ukraine. But I want you to know that I personally, and the entire leadership of the country, we share your pain” So Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a delegation of mothers of soldiers at the front, whom he received today in the Kremlin on Mother’s Day .
Seated at a table laden with tea, sweets and berries, as evidenced by a video broadcast by the Russian media, Putin also asked the soldiers’ mothers to don’t believe everything you see on television or read on the Internet. On the conflict, he added, there is a lot of false news circulating. “We understand – she added after clearing her throat – that nothing can replace the loss of a child, especially for the mother, to whom we all owe the fact that we were born”.
The meeting follows the publication of various denunciations from the front, especially by those who have recently been mobilized to bolster the Russian ranks. In recent months, dozens of videos recorded by soldiers or their relatives have come out online, strong denunciations of the recent mobilization and the poor conditions in which some soldiers on the front lines find themselves, poorly equipped, and called to fight in the absence of a clear war strategy .
Soldiers reported being abandoned by their commanders and forced to wander through the woods without food or reinforcements. The mobilization, which officially lasted about a month and a half, saw 318,000 units called to fight to maintain positions against a Ukrainian counter-offensive launched on two fronts. “I want you to know that we share this pain with you and, of course, we will do everything so that you don’t feel forgotten,” Putin told the mothers.
The Russian president, underlined the Washington Post, used the talk as an opportunity to reiterate the usual list of accusations against the West, which – he said – uses the Ukrainians “as cannon fodder” in the fight against Russia. Even before today’s meeting, Russian activists had expressed doubts that the Kremlin would have a frank dialogue with exasperated mothers and wives and whose loved ones are missing or dead.
Groups such as the Council of Mothers and Wives, which pleaded with the authorities to end the mobilization and bring the soldiers home, and the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, which analyzes thousands of complaints from soldiers and their families, were not invited . The Kremlin broadcast only parts of the meeting and not live.
“We are not interested in this at all,” said Valentina Melnikova, of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers, when asked if her group would send a representative if the Kremlin extended an invitation. Melnikova said in an interview last week that the number of calls the Committee received after the announcement of the mobilization had increased “a hundredfold”.
The composition of the group of participants received by Putin, underlines the Washington Post, suggests that the event had been orchestrated in order to avoid any explosion of anger in Putin’s presence: the women present in the room were mainly officials of pro-government movements, officials mid-level and members of the ruling United Russia party.
One of the guests, Nadezhda Uzunova, the regional leader of a group that helps Russian soldiers in Ukraine, recently spoke at a Kremlin-organized concert on Moscow’s Red Square in support of the annexation of the four regions of eastern Ukraine.
“Like any Russian mother, I, of course, worry about my children. But fear kills faster than a bullet, and we shouldn’t be afraid, but we must unite and consolidate the feminine energy,” she said. Another participant, Zharadat Agueva, has two sons fighting in Ukraine, explains the American newspaper: Ismail is a high-ranking commander of the Chechen battalion Zapad-Akhmat, and Rustam heads a police department in the republic, known for his abuses against prisoners.
Putin will receive his Kazakh counterpart, Kasim Yomart Tokayev, in Moscow on Monday, two days after his swearing-in, scheduled for tomorrow, after the elections he won last November 20. “It will be an important visit for relations between the two countries”, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, branding the analyzes on the state of bilateral relations as “irrelevant”. There is a “friendly alliance positive for both parties” between Moscow and Astana. Putin and Tokayev will address the participants of the Orenburg Interregional Cooperation Forum.
Meanwhile Angela Merkel returns to defend her policy towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia before the invasion of Ukraine. And now you, in an interview with Der Spiegel, reveal that you tried in the summer of 2021 to start talks in a European format, which should also have involved Emmanuel Macron, to try to defuse the tensions that were already building up in Ukraine. “But I no longer had the authority to lobby: because everyone knew I was leaving in the autumn,” said the former German chancellor, who finally handed over to new chancellor Olaf Scholz in early December. And just over two months later, Russia invaded the Ukraine.
Merkel had been the main force of the so-called Normandy Format, created in 2014 by Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea and the start of the conflict in Donbass, which reached the Minsk agreements in early 2015 never fully applied. Also in the summer of 2021, Merkel made her last official visit to Moscow, but even then she felt she no longer had the power and influence to put pressure on Putin: ‘her attitude was clear’ as regards political power, you’re finished’, for Putin only power matters”.