It was one of the things Vladimir Putin feared most: that the mothers of dead or missing soldiers would hold him accountable.
A few weeks ago, an American general released the 100,000th Russian soldier killed or wounded in Ukraine. The mothers of dead Russian soldiers have nothing to lose, so they are politically dangerous. Putin decided to interview 17 of these mothers in front of cameras at his second home near Moscow. His words were quoted by the Russian media, which were more or less benevolent towards them. The reaction of the mothers is still unknown. You must not meet the high standards of Russian information networks …
1. What is the role of women in Russian culture?
Women are responsible for raising children, especially young children. In a country where wars have wiped out generations of men, women are often seen as repositories of memory. Russian literature traditionally portrays them as carriers of great social ideals. Therefore, mothers are at the center of the family, in addition to embodying some kind of moral norms of Russian society. However, defending traditional family values is one of the cornerstones of Putin’s political project. To strip Putin’s mothers of their moral bail would be a serious blow.
2. What did Putin say to mothers?
Putin told the mothers of dead soldiers that he shared their pain personally and as head of state, but did not regret his “own operation.” He also urged them to “stand up to arrogant Western hegemony”. He explained to them that his operation was the result of decades of humiliation since 1991. He asked them “not to believe what is said on the Internet”.
3. Why are Putin’s words problematic?
Putin would have preferred not to meet these Russian mothers. No words can console them. But it was necessary to give the public the impression that it took their suffering into account. However, Putin makes several mistakes here. He forgot that soldiers’ mothers do not get their basic information from the media or the Internet, but rather from soldiers’ telephone conversations with their families. Moreover, justifying the war with revenge or an inferiority complex, rather than concrete political or economic interests, reveals in Putin a political anarchy.
4. Is Putin isolated?
Putin is not isolated. On the contrary, he is supported by his nationalist wing, which demands more violent military action. To repeat this, Putin and other Russian leaders repeat that Ukraine must be tarnished. He also accuses NATO of controlling Ukraine. However, nothing proves this. On the contrary, Volodymyr Zelensky seems to be in control of the situation. Besides, how can Ukraine be ruled by the Nazis and NATO at the same time? Unless you say that NATO is also in the hands of the Nazis …
5. What can Russian mothers understand?
Russian mothers may understand that the war in Ukraine is a war of aggression that serves only to satisfy the ambitions of the dictator. Through the influence of contagion, Russian mothers can also feel sympathy for Ukrainian mothers. It will be the end of the war – and Putin.