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Putin holds highly choreographed meeting with mothers of Russian soldiers

“I want you to know that I personally and the leaders of the country share this pain,” Putin said at the start of the meeting. “We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son, of a child.”

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February with the apparent hope that the government in Kyiv would quickly collapse. As the initial plan failed and Russian forces struggled to hold hundreds of miles of front lines, the Kremlin was forced to declare a mobilization of recruits, which it suspended earlier this month after a public backlash of a magnitude never seen since the beginning of the invasion.

For many apolitical Russians, the war had finally reached their homes, taking away their husbands and sons. In some cases, relatives had to provide the ill-equipped mobilized men with everything, from socks to drones. Many have been unable to reach loved ones for weeks, anxiously awaiting news.

On Sunday, Ms. Tsukanova’s organization held a press conference in Moscow where many relatives of soldiers had the opportunity to tell their stories.

“They humiliated, deceived and intimidated us, so women, we have nothing to fear,” said Ms Tsukanova, whose son was conscripted into the army before September’s mobilization and forced to serve at the border. with Ukraine with shortly before. coaching.

Yelena Kostina said her nephew was sent from the Lipetsk region in western Russia to the front lines in Ukraine only eight days after his mobilization.

The newly mobilized men “had to fight with automatic rifles against the artillery”, Ms. Kostina said.

Yelena Kalimysheva said her brother was thrown into battle with no supplies or means of communication, no commanders on the ground.

“They were hit by mortar fire” and were forced to surrender, Ms Kalimysheva said. “Why”, she asked, “after a week of training, were they thrown into the woods and left there to die?”

nytimes Gt

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