Russian President Vladimir Putin told women across his country Tuesday to “be proud” of their male relatives taking part in the invasion of Ukraine, as videos circulating on social media indicated a significant grassroots backlash to the war.
In a speech marking International Women’s Day, Putin took a moment to address “the mothers, wives, sisters and fiancées of our men and officers, who are fighting to defend Russia during the special military operation” — the euphemistic term favored by the Kremlin to describe the bloody assault against Moscow’s western neighbor.
“I know that you are worried about your loved ones,” he said. “You can be proud of them, just as the whole country is proud and concerned about them.”
In the same speech, Putin insisted neither conscripted soldiers nor reservists would be called up to take part in the brutal fighting.
“Only professional military personnel are fulfilling the tasks set to them,” he claimed.
Thousands of Russian citizens have been detained at antiwar protests across the country since the invasion began, with many accusing the Putin regime of concealing the true nature of the conflict. Captured Russian soldiers have been recorded making statements that they had no idea they were being sent to Ukraine until the last minute before the invasion order came.
In Siberia, video obtained by the UK’s Daily Telegraph Monday showed soldiers’ mothers shouting down a regional governor trying to explain away the war.