Russian President Vladimir Putin told a group of mothers whose sons are fighting in Ukraine on Friday that he shares the pain of those who have lost relatives in the conflict.
The meeting came ahead of Mother’s Day, which Russia celebrates on Sunday, and amid growing anger from the families of Russian soldiers following a chaotic military draft.
“I want you to know: I personally and the entire leadership of the country share this pain,” Vladimir Putin told the women at his residence near Moscow.
“We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son or a child,” he said in his opening speech, which lasted only a few minutes.
“I don’t dare say formal, standard things related to condolences,” he said.
He added that some news reports about Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine could not be trusted.
“There is a lot of fake news, deceit and lies,” he said.
Vladimir Putin, who has introduced legislation banning any public criticism of the offensive in Ukraine, told the women to be wary of what they read on the internet.
“Obviously life is more complex than what is shown on our TV screens or even on the internet, there is nothing to trust there,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the rest of the discussion would be shown “depending on the conversation”.
State television broadcast footage of the Russian leader sitting at a table with 17 mothers, in the first such meeting since Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“I fully understand that for you, and for many other women in Russia whose sons are currently in combat zones, this will not be a festive time,” the 70-year-old said, referring to Mother’s Day.
Videos of Russian mothers and relatives worried about men fighting in Ukraine have flooded Russian social media in recent months.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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