Putin's willing to take 'high casualties' over Ukraine says expert
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A leaked poll published by senior Russian officials at the Federal Guard Service now shows that just one in four people in Russia wish for the Russian military to stay in Ukraine. The documentation was obtained by Meduza, an independent investigative media website.
The drop in support amongst Russians comes after Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of soldiers to be mobilised in order to be sent to the front lines.
The Russian leader attempted to quell fears of mass mobilisation by meeting with the wives and mothers of Russian soldiers last week.
He told them not to believe the “lies” about the invasion of Ukraine as he met them at his personal residence in Novo-Ogarevo, near Moscow.
Vladimir Putin said: “I want you to know that I, personally, all the leaders of the country, share this pain. We know that nothing can replace the loss of a son.”
However, the meeting received criticism from Olga Tsukanova, the founder of Russia’s Council of Mothers and Wives, who accused the Russian President of purposely excluding the organisation.
In a video address, Ms Tsukanova said Putin should meet with “real mothers” of those that serve in the Russian military instead of women “hand-picked” by authorities.
It was later revealed that only out of the 17 women who met in the televised session, only one had a son that had been conscripted into the army.
Women at the meeting were also revealed to be loyalists to the Russian Government, as one was believed to be the wife of a military commander and another is said to be a member of the extremely patriotic group Combat Brotherhood, which has advised Russian officials.
Denis Volkov, who is the head of Levada Centre, an independent and nongovernmental Russian organisation that deals in polling research, spoke about the new findings.
He said: “People perceived this as something that did not concern them. Now the risks have grown and people want [peace] talks to begin.”
There have also been reports from the Russian front lines of conscripted soldiers receiving poor training and poorly assembled equipment.
One conscript told the Guardian in October: “They gave us absolutely no equipment. The army has nothing, we had to buy all our gear ourselves.
“I even had to paint my gun to cover the rust. It is a nightmare … Soon they’ll make us buy our own grenades.”
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On Wednesday, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that military spending on new weaponry will rise by 50 percent next year.
He added that the Russian Government plans for “major constriction” at military bases which host Russian nuclear missiles, and they will also work to accommodate the newest nuclear weapons.
Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry in the world, with nearly 6,000 warheads.
Mr Shoigu also called on Russia to use advanced weapons in Ukraine, and said: “It is necessary to continue the modernisation and creation of promising systems with their subsequent use during the special military operation.”
He did not clarify which advanced systems should be used, although he said he wished to discuss with generals new ways of improving artillery and missile attacks.
Without giving specifics, Mr Shoigu said: “New ways of using them in combat are being tested.”
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