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'Vladimir, answer us': Russian soldiers' mothers and wives challenge Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with mothers of military personnel serving in the special military operation ahead of Mother's Day at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow (AP)Premium
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with mothers of military personnel serving in the special military operation ahead of Mother's Day at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow (AP)

Mothers and wives of soldiers mobilised to fight in Ukraine, urgently demanding that the military make good on promises made by President Vladimir Putin.

Videos of mothers and wives of soldiers sent to Ukraine to fight are taking over Russian social media, and they are urging the military to keep its word after President Vladimir Putin made a series of assurances.

Since the Kremlin announced in September that hundreds of thousands of well-trained and well-equipped men would be conscripted and sent to the battlefield to support Moscow's stuttering campaign in Ukraine, anger and concern have been growing throughout Russia.

But as a result of widespread reports of exempted men—the ill or elderly—being sent to the front and conscripts dying after receiving little to no training, the Kremlin was forced to acknowledge "mistakes."

Putin is anticipated to meet a group of military mothers and wives on Friday for the first time since directing Russian forces into Ukraine nine months ago, showing that he takes the growing gloom seriously.

However, some family members have already brushed off the gathering, claiming it was carefully planned and wouldn't provide a forum for open discourse.

"The president will meet with some mothers pulled out of his pocket, who will ask the right questions and thank him," said Olga Tsukanova, an activist mother.

Tsukanova's 20-year-old son is currently doing his military service and she wants to make sure he will not be sent to Ukraine. She travelled 900 kilometres (560 miles) from the city of Samara on the Volga river in the hope of being seen at the Kremlin.

"I'm not alone. Invite us, KV

, answer our questions!" she said, referring to the president by his patronymic.

According to analysts, the Kremlin is in a precarious position due to anger over the fate of the mobilised men, which runs the risk of turning into genuine discontent.

The word of mothers is sacred in Russia, despite the authorities' unprecedented crackdown on political dissent while troops fight in Ukraine.

Mothers and wives receive some form of protection because they are connected to men who have enlisted to serve the country and are not simply seen as adversaries.

"There is a subconscious feeling that women have that right," to hold power to account, sociologist Alexei Levinson of the independent Levada Centre said.

"But this is not a woman for peace movement. They want the state to fulfil its responsibility as a 'collective father' towards the mobilised," he warned.

The soldiers mothers' movement is currently disorganised and fragmented, primarily made up of concerned family members posting videos on social media, where some unofficial groups have developed.

Many women avoid speaking to the  press out of fear that they might get into trouble for complaining about the offensive in an atmosphere of suspicion not seen since the Soviet era.

(With inputs from AFP)

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