ERR in Moscow: Ukraine conflict especially hard to swallow for mothers of Russian soldiers

Valentina Melnikova (ERR)
2/10/2015 2:16 PM
Category: International

The number of Russian soldiers who have died in Ukraine remains a state secret, but the Union of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia has taken on the task of finding out, ERR's Neeme Raud said.

Valentina Melnikova, from the committee, has been active in the organization for 25 years, during which time Russia has participated in nine wars, but the conflict in Ukraine is different, ETV reported.

“At first, even we failed to understand the situation, because in all previous wars, no matter the case, Russian wars all followed military laws, even in Afghanistan. Now it is a secret operation, in the eyes of the law, but there is no such legislation. It is just secret, diversion operation,” Melnikova told ETV.

The only official information comes from near the Ukrainian border, from the Rostov Oblast. According to Moscow, many soldiers are dying or receiving serious injuries in training accidents.

“The medical documents say serious traumas, many injuries, severe damage to internal organs, heavy burns, lost limbs – those can not take place during training exercises, it is not possible,” she said.

Commenting on the number of dead, she said her organization can only rely on experience, adding that as Ukraine publishes its casualties, Russia must have lost at least half that number, she said.

Russian authorities remain tight lipped, saying only that a few Russian citizens may have gone to fight in Ukraine, but as volunteers.

“For the people, the war which is fought by Russia, is especially hard. The families of the killed are unable to fill documents to receive additional benefits. And the much talked about five million rubles [currently 67,000 euros], which should be paid to families, is still up in the air. Families waited for documents for half a year and I am not sure the families of those who died in August received their compensation – a sum which is worth about a half now. It is a terrible story,” Melnikova said.

She said families, parents, mothers of those killed do not want to raise the subject. The Russian society does not want to admit it is fighting in Ukraine.

“I am baffled that the families of the soldiers are not worried that their husbands, sons, brothers can be called to war. I have a psychological explanation – it is the disappearance of the social, parental instinct. It is like switching off the brain. It is self preservation so as not to despair, to tell oneself that all will pass. But this is a purely psychiatric development and can not be called rational,” she said.

J.M. Laats, S. Tambur

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