Russian soldiers who die in battle in Ukraine “belong to the state”, a regional governor said at a meeting with the mothers of fallen troops on Thursday.
The direct comments by Igor Kobzev, the head of the Irkutsk region in southeastern Siberia, come as the Russian military officially acknowledges fewer than 6,000 casualties despite suffering major setbacks in its nine-month invasion.
Kobzev, 56, quoted his own mother’s words to him when he enrolled in a military academy:
“From now on you don’t belong to me, you belong to the state, the homeland.”
“With honor and great understanding, I hand over an 18-year-old boy to serve in the Armed Forces, and you become a person of the state.”
At the meeting, Kobzev awarded medals to the mothers of the fallen soldiers and claimed that only 28 natives of the Irkutsk region have died in Ukraine.
Independent media tracking Russia’s military deaths say 122 soldiers from the Irkutsk region have died in Ukraine since February.
The businesses have been able to confirm the names of 9,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine.
Senior US officials estimate that 100,000 Russian troops have died, gone missing or been seriously injured in the war.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet the mothers of soldiers fighting in Ukraine later Thursday.
The run-up to the expected meeting has been plagued by accusations from the soldiers’ relatives that Putin is likely to meet handpicked representatives and continue to ignore their concerns.