Vladimir Putin’s meeting today with mothers of servicemen he sent to the Ukraine-Russia war has been exposed as a cynical stage-managed sham.
He met a group of ultra-loyalist women carefully selected not to ask difficult questions.
Meanwhile, furious Russian mothers and wives not at the event raged at the ‘shame’ of how Putin avoided them and their complaints about using their relatives as cannon fodder.
‘I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country – we share your pain,’ he told women in a much-heralded meeting at his official residence.
Nadezhda Uzunova (marked) poses close to Vladimir Putin during the heavily-promoted ‘meeting with mothers and wives of the mobilised men’ on November 25, 2022
Nadezhda Uzunova, an attendee of today’s mothers’ meeting, sings the Russian anthem close to Vladimir Putin during a concert on Moscow’s Red Square on September 30, 2022 to celebrate annexation of new territories of Ukraine
‘We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son – especially for a mother…we share this pain.’
But behind his words, Putin’s officials vetoed him meeting mothers wanting to voice fury about the way their sons have been put in harm’s way by the leader’s shambolic mobilisation.
He also said during the televised event that ‘We must achieve our goals and we will achieve them in the end,’ denouncing what he called attempts by ‘the enemy… in the information sphere’ to ‘devalue, (and) compromise’ Moscow’s tactics in Ukraine.
It is not clear whether he met the mother of any of the Russian soldiers killed or maimed in Ukraine, a figure said by the US to exceed 100,000.
Russian journalists quickly identified some of the women handpicked to meet Putin as known loyalists.
One of the women, Nadezhda Uzanova from Abakan, had previously appeared at an event with Putin – seen on video – singing the Russian national anthem on Red Square after he formally illegally annexed invaded regions of Ukraine as Kremlin territory.
She is a member of an ultra-patriotic group called Combat Brotherhood, and has advised pro-Putin officials.
Anna Gerusova – seen with Putin at today’s session – is believed to be the wife of a military commissar in Rostov region.
Another meeting attendee Yulia Belekhova, 40, has a son serving in the conflict but has expressed strongly pro-war views, and is a wannabe MP in Putin’s main political party United Russia
Olesya Shigina, known for shooting Orthodox patriotic films, also attended the meeting with Putin and mothers of servicemen participating in the Ukraine war, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on November 25, 2022
Another, Irina Tas-Ool, is a loyalist regional government official, and it is not clear she has children of an age to be serving in the war.
One more, 50-year-old Olga Beltseva, is a representative of pro-Putin party United Russia.
Yulia Belekhova, 40, has a son serving in the conflict but has expressed strongly pro-war views, and is a wannabe MP in Putin’s main political party United Russia.
The son of another mother Zharadat Aguyeva, from Chechnya, has been praised by the region’s Putin-loyal leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
She has two sons – one a military commander and the other a police chief who has threatened conscientious objectors to Putin’s war.
Marina Migunova is a member of the loyalist Public Chamber of Orekhovo-Zuevo, while Olesya Shigina, 46, is known for shooting Orthodox patriotic films.
News outlet Agentstvo Novosti said the women were ’employees of pro-government structures’.
Ironically, Putin told the 17 ‘mothers’ to beware of online ‘fakes, deception, lies’ about his war in Ukraine.
‘You can’t trust anything’ on the internet about the conflict, he said.
The women appeared happy -if not overwhelmed – to meet him, and all 17 eagerly posed for a group picture with him.
Yet his own meeting was hailed a shameful deception by angry mothers with real complaints about the war that were unvoiced in his pre-recorded televised meeting with ‘mothers’.
Abbas Galyamov, political analyst and former Putin speech writer, said: ‘This is, obviously, a shame.’
This was echoed by the father Dmitry Shkrebets of a lost conscript sailor on the Moskva flagship sunk by Ukrainian missed.
‘It is a shame to look at this staged meeting,’ he said.
Putin also told them he has no regrets about launching his war – or what he claims is Russia’s ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine
Putin told the Russian mothers: ‘I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country – we share your pain’
Unlike others he has met recently, Putin did not social distance, raising the question whether the women had been in quarantine ahead of meeting with him.
It is unclear what was said at the closed session , but no critical comments from any of the attending mothers were aired by state TV.
Yet one woman, 46-year-old Olga Tsukanova from Samara, whose 20-year-old son is missing after being mobilised, had taunted the dictator ahead of the session: ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], are you a man or what?’
She was refused a plea to join the session.
In a sign of rising opposition to his war and a rumoured new round of mobilisation, Tsukanova, head of the Council of Mothers and Wives, had asked: ‘Do you have enough courage to look into our eyes — openly, in a meeting with women who weren’t hand-picked for you…?
Olga Tsukanova, 46, mother of a missing conscript and founder of the new Mothers and Wives Council confronts Vladimir Putin in a video today, demanding answers on the war with Ukraine
‘Women who aren’t in your pocket, but real mothers who have travelled here from different cities at their own expense, to meet with you?
‘We are here, in Moscow, and we are ready to meet with you. We expect an answer from you. Are you going to keep hiding from us?’
She and her council were excluded from the Putin meeting.
Today, distraught single mothers with only one son pleaded with Putin in videos to listen to them – but none of them were asked to meet him.
One whose son was called to war said: ‘Please do not condemn us to a lonely old age.’
Another pleaded: ‘I speak to you on behalf of all mothers in Russia of only sons, the only breadwinners.
‘Even in Tsarist Russia, the only son was not taken from his mother. I beg you to pay attention to us.
‘This is a cry from the heart. It is my second month with antidepressants. I don’t know if I (will) survive this mobilisation.’
Another demanded: ‘Lonely mothers from all over Russia beg you for help.
‘A single son for us is everything, our life, our oxygen, our air, the soul and the heart. Everything we live for.
‘To take away our only son means to die for us.’
President Vladimir Putin had told mothers of killed Russian soldiers that he empathised with them, saying he shared in their suffering and loss of their sons.
In a meeting today with the bereaved mothers of Russian military killed on the frontline of his war, Putin said that he shared their pain and told them not to believe the ‘fake news’ about his invasion.
Hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers have been sent to fight in Ukraine – including some of the more than 300,000 reservists who were called up as part of a mobilisation announced by Putin in September.
Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with women described as ‘wives and mothers of Russian servicemen’ on November 25, 2022
The war in Ukraine has killed or wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States’ estimations. The Russian invasion has also triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.
Putin sat with the 17 women in his palatial residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, west of Moscow, surrounded by a table filled with tea, cakes and bowls of fresh berries, claiming that he felt their loss.
Putin said he understood the anxiety and concern of soldiers’ mothers – and the pain of those who had lost sons in Ukraine.
Putin told them he has no regrets about launching his war – or what he claims is Russia’s ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine.
Putin said he sometimes called Russian soldiers on the front line and said that their words had made them heroes in his eyes.
The Russian leader continues to spin propaganda, claiming the war as a watershed moment in which Russia can finally stand up to an arrogant Western hegemony after decades of humiliation in the years since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation. Ukraine says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.
Russia last publicly disclosed its losses on September 21, when Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed. But that number is far below most international estimates.
The United States’ top general estimated that, as of November 9, Russia and Ukraine had each seen more than 100,000 of their soldiers killed or wounded.
Putin will ‘mobilise another 2 million including 300,000 women’
Speculation is swirling in Russia that Vladimir Putin will soon demand a massive new mobilisation drive in a desperate effort to halt calamitous defeats to Ukraine.
This comes despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warning Moscow that it must withdraw from all occupied territories if there is to be any lasting resolution to the war.
It’s also been predicted that such a move could be a diversion tactic for Putin to step down and hand over power, with the leader reportedly suffering ill health in recent months.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov today denied the Kremlin warmonger would make an imminent announcement.
‘Media information about Putin’s address, which allegedly will announce the ‘mobilisation of the country’ is not true,’ said Dmitry Peskov.
Yet such denials are only fuelling speculation that a move to go beyond the 300,000-plus already conscripted is not far away.
This is in part because Putin has failed to sign the necessary decree to end the first wave of mobilisation.
One version is that he could draft up to two million – including 300,000 women – in an attempt to turn the war into a national crusade.
The move is likely to be coupled with martial law in key cities, including Moscow, say Russian sources.
Such a scenario might act as political cover enabling him to hand over power in the event of worsening health, say some observers convinced he is terminally ill – despite regular recent appearances, including foreign travel to Armenia.
Putin-watcher Valery Solovey, former professor at Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations, said: ‘The intention [is] to mobilise not 300,000, 400,000, or 500,000 but, with luck, up to two million people, including 300,000 women after the New Year celebrations.
‘Moreover, it is planned to conduct mobilisation at the same time as introducing martial law.’
Solovey is also convinced Putin will go within the next 13 months due to his spreading cancer.