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Ukraine is appealing directly to mothers and relatives of Russian soldiers to convince them to stop fighting as casualties continue to mount amid escalating conflict in Moscow.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the conflict, a number well above the 498 dead claimed by Russia.
“Russian mothers are losing their children in a completely foreign country,” Zelenskyy said in a video address. “Think of this figure: nearly 6,000 Russians died, Russian servicemen, in six days of war.”
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly invoked the Russian death toll and expressed empathy for the families of those who served under President Vladimir Putin, many of whom are described as poorly trained conscripts with substandard equipment who were brought to fight in Ukraine.
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The leaders also posted videos of demoralized Russian troops in uniform on social media. Some said they had not been informed of the invasion, although statements may have been made under duress.
The lack of fighting spirit was a poignant moment when Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations read aloud a text message on Monday that he said was between a Russian soldier and his mother before he was kill.
“I’m not in training. Mom, I’m in Ukraine,” read Sergiy Kyslytsya in Russian. “There’s a real war raging here. I’m scared. We’re bombing every town, even targeting civilians. We were told they’d welcome us, and they’re falling under our armor, throwing themselves under the wheels and not allowing us to pass.”
“They call us fascists. Mom. It’s so hard,” he added.
To underscore the contrast of Ukrainian forces and win support from the Russian public, the Defense Ministry on Wednesday urged the mothers of captured Russian soldiers to travel to Kyiv to pick up their children and gave detailed instructions on how to retrieve them. .
“We ask you to pass this message on to the thousands of miserable Russian mothers, whose sons have been captured in Ukraine,” the ministry wrote in the Facebook post. “We Ukrainians, unlike Putin’s fascists, do not wage war on mothers and their captured sons,” the Defense Ministry said. “We are waiting for you in Kyiv!”
Over the weekend, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the mothers, daughters and wives of those fighting for Russia to demand that Putin end hostilities. This week, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov appealed directly to the soldiers themselves.
“Russian soldier! You were brought to our land to kill and die. Do not follow criminal orders,” he posted on social media. “We guarantee you full amnesty and 5 million rubles if you lay down your arms. For those who continue to behave like an occupier, there will be no mercy.”
The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia, an NGO which helps military families and speaks out against human abuse in the Russian military, told Britain’s ITV News it has been inundated with calls from Russian mothers seeking their sons.
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“What happened to my child, is he alive? Is he captured? Where is he? Is he in Russia near the border with Ukraine or is he in Ukraine? These are the questions the most important ones that worry parents,” said lawyer Alexandre Latynine. with the Committee, the outlet said.
Fox News contacted the organization.