Ukraine Russia news – live: Putin claims he ‘shares pain’ of troops’ mothers

Ukraine Russia news – live: Putin claims he ‘shares pain’ of troops’ mothers

Warmonger Vladimir Putin has claimed that he and other government ministers “share the pain” of the mothers whose sons are fighting and dying in Ukraine.

The president, overseeing the conflict from his luxury residence in Moscow, met with troops’ mothers on Friday ahead of Mother’s Day - celebrated in Russia on the last Sunday in November.

Some reports say that around 100,000 have been killed or injured in Mr Putin’s bloody war, which he claims is a “special military operation.”

Speaking on Friday, he told the women: “I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country - we share your pain.

“We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son - especially for a mother,” he aded, breathing heavily, and frequently clearing his throat. “We share this pain.”

Earlier Britain’s Ministry of Defence said many Russian troops are being compelled to serve in Ukraine with "serious" health problems, while those forced to build trenches under fire are likely to have suffered "particularly heavy casualties".

Key points

  • Putin claims he ‘shares pain’ of troops’ mothers

  • Putin ‘forcing troops with chronic health problems into battle’

  • Zelensky says Russian attacks on Kherson 'almost every hour'

  • Families of Russian reservists prepared to protest as large numbers of those mobilised killed

  • Russia spent $82bn on war since February, report says

  • Power restored to almost 50% consumers - Ukraine’s state grid operator

  • 7 killed, 21 injured in Kherson, governor says

21:04 , Emily Atkinson

Good evening.

We are pausing our live updates on the war in Ukraine for now. Join us again tomorrow morning.

Thank you.

04:19 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine

Russia spent $82bn on war in Ukraine since February

04:38 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia has spent $82bn on the war in Ukraine since it started its invasion on 24 February, Forbes has estimated.

The estimate includes the direct costs that are necessary to support military operations but excludes stable defense spending, or losses related to the economy.

The report added that Russia has already spent a quarter of last year’s $340bn revenues on military operations.

Moscow spent more than $5.5bn on the provision of artillery alone, with the average price of a Soviet-caliber projectile at about $1,000.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

7 killed, 21 injured in Kherson, governor says

05:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Seven people have been killed and 21 others injured in Kherson Oblast in Russian strikes carried out through Thursday.

Kherson Oblast governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said in a post on Telegram: “Today is another terrible page in the history of our hero city.”

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Zelensky says Russian attacks on Kherson 'almost every hour'

05:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said repeated Russian attacks on Kherson Oblast continue “almost every hour”.

In his evening address yesterday, Mr Zelensky said the frequent attacks started after Russian forces were forced to withdraw from Kherson Oblast.

“Only the liberation of our land and reliable security guarantees for Ukraine can protect our people from any escalation by Russia,” he said.

“We are working with our partners every day for this.”

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Power restored to almost 50% consumers, Ukraine's state grid operator says

05:40 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Power supply has been restored for up to 50 per cent of consumers as of yesterday evening, Ukraine’s state grid operator Ukrenergo has said, reported The Kyiv Independent.

This after Russia’s mass missile strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure the day before.

“The consequences of yesterday’s missile attack are felt by all regions of Ukraine. It is impossible to tell any terms of full recovery now,” Ukrenergo said.

However, a “significant part” of thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants are already operating, the company added.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facilities, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 18, 2022 (via REUTERS)
Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facilities, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 18, 2022 (via REUTERS)

Kremlin denies energy infrastructure attacks were aimed at civilians

06:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia has acknowledged that it targeted Ukraine’s energy facilities but denied that they were aimed at civilians.

Defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and that the aim was to disrupt flows of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to front lines.

“We are conducting strikes against infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and the reckless appeals of Kyiv to defeat Russia,” said Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Authorities for Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of seven people killed and dozens of wounded.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift blame for civilian hardship.

“Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering of the civilian population,” he said.

Local residents queue for access to a water pump in a park to fill plastic bottles in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Local residents queue for access to a water pump in a park to fill plastic bottles in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

We will endure despite cold and blackouts, Ukraine's first lady says

06:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska has said that Ukraine will endure the winter despite the cold and the blackouts caused by Russian missiles.

In an interview with BBC, Ms Zelenska said: “We are ready to endure this.”

“We’ve had so many terrible challenges, seen so many victims, so much destruction, that blackouts are not the worst thing to happen to us.”

She added: “We all understand that without victory, there will be no peace. It would be a false peace and wouldn’t last long.”

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

ICYMI: Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

06:40 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia’s “special military operation” has now been raging for nine months, the conflict continuing to record devastating casualties and force the mass displacement of millions of Ukrainians.

Thomas Kingsley, Joe Sommerlad explain the ongoing crisis and how it might unfold:

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Heavy bombardment in Kherson

07:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Over two weeks after Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson, the city came under its heaviest bombardment yesterday.

Hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes, reported Associated Press.

Russian strikes have hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets.

Ukraine’s general staff said that Russian forces fired 67 cruise missiles and 10 drones during Wednesday’s “massive attack on residential buildings and energy infrastructure” in Kyiv and several other regions in Ukraine.

Ukrainian servicemen drive towards the frontline in Kherson, southern Ukraine on 23 November (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Ukrainian servicemen drive towards the frontline in Kherson, southern Ukraine on 23 November (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

15,000 people missing during Ukraine war

07:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

More than 15,000 people have gone missing since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The figures were provided by an official at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), reported Reuters.

The actual figure of those who are missing might be considerably higher.

Matthew Holliday, ICMP’s programme director for Europe, said it was unclear how many people were held in detention, had been forcibly transferred, were separated from their family members, or had died.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ICYMI: Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

07:36 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin will meet the mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine in time for the country’s celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports:

Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

Families of Russian reservists prepared to protest as large numbers of those mobilised killed

07:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

An increasing number of reservists’ families are prepared to risk arrest by protesting against the conditions their relatives are serving under, the UK defence ministry has said.

It comes as the ministry reported that “mobilised reservists have highly likely experienced particularly heavy casualties after being committed to dig ambitious trench systems while under artillery fire around the Luhansk Oblast town of Svatove”.

The defence intelligence added that the eligibility of Russian reservists has often been questionable, and the training and equipment they are given is “inadequate”.

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Air defences triggered in Russia-annexed Crimea town -TASS

08:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The air defence system has been triggered in the town of Armiansk in Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula, TASS news agency quoted a local mayor as saying on Friday.

UK foreign minister to pledge further winter support on Ukraine visit

08:23 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

British foreign minister James Cleverly will pledge millions of pounds in further support for Kyiv during a visit to Ukraine to ensure the country has the practical help it needs through the winter, his office said.

Cleverly, who is set to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on the trip, also condemned Russia for its “brutal attacks” on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure.

A statement from his office issued early on Friday said Cleverly had travelled to Ukraine, which this week suffered the most devastating Russian air strikes on its energy infrastructure so far in the months-long war.

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine,” said Cleverly, as he set out 3 million pounds to help rebuild vital infrastructure and committed another 5 million for a Ukraine-led initiative to ship grain to countries at risk of famine.

“I’ve seen here first-hand how the UK’s efforts are helping brave citizens to resist and rebuild. Our support will continue for as long as it takes for this remarkable country to recover,” he added.

Cleverly’s trip to the European country comes just days after new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his first visit to Kyiv during which he vowed to continue the firm support for Ukraine that Britain provided under his predecessors.

James Cleverly pledges more ambulances for Ukraine during visit to country

08:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

James Cleverly has announced a package of “hands-on” support to help Ukraine through the winter while on a visit to the war-torn nation.

The Foreign Secretary was due to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky during his trip, which comes days after Prime MinisterRishi Sunak travelled to Kyiv.

Mr Cleverly announced the practical support as Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.

UK to send more ambulances to war-torn Ukraine

Kyiv residents in survival mode as Putin knocks out power

08:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Residents of Ukraine‘s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.

In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine‘s power grid left many with neither.

Cafés in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not.

His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor.

So he hopped into a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from left bank to right, to a café that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes.

Sure enough, it was serving hot drinks, hot food and the music and Wi-Fi were on.“I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said. “Here is life.”

Kyiv residents fill plastic bottles at a water pump in a park in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Kyiv residents fill plastic bottles at a water pump in a park in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

Warmonger Putin to meet mothers of soldiers

09:28 , Matt Mathers

Warmonger Vladimir Putin has insisted he has no regrets about unleashing his bloody conflict in Ukraine as he prepares to meet the mothers of soldiers whose lives he has put at risk on the front line.

Up to 100,000 Russian troops and reservists have been killed or wounded so far in the illegal war, which Mr Putin continues to say is a “special military operation” to end what he claims - without evidence - is genocide against ethnic Russians in the country.

Russian resident Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel/AP/PA) (AP)
Russian resident Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel/AP/PA) (AP)

The war in Ukraine has killed and wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States, and the Russian invasion has triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.

"On the eve of Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in Russia on the last Sunday of November, Vladimir Putin will meet with the mothers of servicemen participating in the special military operation," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Nato - we won’t back down on support Ukraine

09:53 , Matt Mathers

Nato has reaffirmed its support for Ukraine, which has made major gains in recent weeks around Kherson - a regional economic centre.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said the military alliance would “not back down” in its efforts to supply Kyiv with non-lethal aid.

“NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.

“We will not back down,” he told reporters in Brussels on Friday ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting of the alliance in Bucharest next week.

Multiple people killed in Russian bombardment of Kherson

10:09 , Matt Mathers

Kherson on Thursday came under its heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago.

The barrage of missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman was also killed next to her house, witnesses said, speaking to Associated Press reporters.

Hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes.

They hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets.

Putin ‘forcing troops with chronic health problems into battle’

11:31 , Matt Mathers

Many Russian troops are being compelled to serve in Ukraine with "serious" health problems, while those forced to build trenches under fire are likely to have suffered "particularly heavy casualties", British defence experts believe.

A number of "common themes" are emerging in the experience of Moscow’s mobilised reservists, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), with their deployment often characterised by "inadequate" training and personal equipment.

An MoD defence intelligence update suggests the Kremlin will likely be concerned that an increasing number of families are prepared to risk arrest by protesting against the conditions their relatives face at war.

Most mobilised reservists have previously served, it says, with "numerous examples" suggesting it is highly probably they are not having their medical status "adequately reviewed".

"Many are being compelled to serve with serious, chronic health conditions," the update states.

Zelensky: Europe must avoid division

12:39 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday called on Europeans to remain united against Russia’s war as he addressed a conference in Lithuania.

"There is no split, there is no schism among Europeans and we have to preserve this. This is our mission number one this year," Zelensky said via a video link.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

ICYMI: NATO vows to aid Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

13:15 , Matt Mathers

NATO is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed on Friday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Romania next week, Stoltenberg urged countries that want to, either individually or in groups, to keep providing air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine. NATO as an organization does not supply weapons.

“NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “Allies are providing unprecedented military support, and I expect foreign ministers will also agree to step up non-lethal support.”

Lorne Cook has the full report:

NATO vows to aid Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

Watch: Escaping Mariupol with my family and my cat

13:40 , Matt Mathers

Alona Zahreba is a 15-year-old Ukrainian, living with her parents and her cat when the invasion by Russian forces happened in 2022.

Living in Mariupol, one of the areas in Ukraine that has seen the most fighting, Alona’s family had to try to escape in order to survive but just before leaving, her cat Peaches went missing.

With encouragement from producers Jim Lenz, Noah Berlow and John Chua, this is a short film about the rescue of her cat during the Russian invasion, exclusive to watch on Independent TV.

German lawmakers want to declare 1930s Ukraine famine a genocide

13:59 , Matt Mathers

Lawmakers from Germany’s ruling coalition and opposition want to declare the Holodomor, the death by starvation of millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33 under Soviet leader Josef Stalin, a genocide, according to a draft motion seen by Reuters.

The draft describes the Soviet leadership’s attempts to control and suppress farmers as well as Ukrainian culture and language through hunger and repression. This "from today’s perspective, suggests a historical-political classification as genocide. The German Bundestag agrees with this classification".

According to German media reports, the draft will be debated and passed in the Bundestag lower house of parliament next week.

Warmonger Putin claims he ‘shares pain’ of soldiers’ mothers

14:26 , Matt Mathers

Warmonger Vladimir Putin has claimed that he and other government ministers “share the pain” of the mothers whose sons are fighting in Ukraine.

The Russian president, overseeing the war from his luxury residence in Moscow, met with troops’ mothers on Friday ahead of Mother’s Day - celebrated in Russia on the last Sunday in November.

Some reports say that around 100,000 have been killed or injured in Mr Putin’s bloody war, which he claims is a “special military operation.”

Speaking on Friday, he told the women: “I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country - we share your pain.

“We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son - especially for a mother," he aded, breathing heavily, and frequently clearing his throat. "We share this pain."

Poland asks for German launchers to be sent to western Ukraine

15:17 , Matt Mathers

Germany said on Friday it was discussing with allies Poland’s request that German Patriot air defence units be sent to Ukraine, after NATO’s chief suggested the military alliance might not oppose such a move.

"We are talking with our allies about how to handle Poland’s ... suggestion," a German government spokesperson told reporters in Berlin.

Berlin offered Warsaw the Patriot system to help secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed and killed two people in Poland last week. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak later asked Germany to send the fire units to Ukraine instead.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said such deployments should be decisions for individual nations, taking into account rules around final users.

"The specific decisions on specific systems are national decisions," he told reporters in Brussels.

"Sometimes there are end users agreements and other things so they need to consult with other allies. But at the end of the day, it (the decision) has to be taken by the national governments," he added.

Millions of Ukrainians still without power

15:50 , Matt Mathers

Millions of Ukrainians were still without heat or power on Friday after the most devastating Russian air strikes on its energy grid so far, with residents warned to brace for further attacks and stock up on water, food and warm clothing.

Moscow says the attacks on Ukraine’s basic infrastructure are militarily legitimate, and that Kyiv can end the suffering of its people if it yields to Russian demands. Ukraine says attacks intended to cause civilian misery are a war crime.

"Together we endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us, and will not find one," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address overnight.

ICYMI: Feeling flush? Naked Vladimir Putin golden toilet sculpture up for auction to raise cash for Ukraine

16:15 , Matt Mathers

A nude effigy of Russian president Vladimir Putin perched on top of an ornate golden toilet has been put up for auction by a group of Czech activists who plan to use the proceeds from the sale to buy and send a combat drone to Ukraine’s forces.

Parodying a monarch holding an orb and sceptre, the Russian leader grips a glided toilet brush and minature washing machine pouring with what appears to be fake blood.

“Naked Killers”, which also features Mr Putin’s close ally and Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, was initially created to critique the Russian leader’s opulent lifestyle, and has been adorned with several different props to reflect the changing circumstance of his rule since it was unveiled last year.

My colleague Emily Atkinson reports:

Feeling flush? Naked Vladimir Putin sculpture on golden toilet put up for auction

NATO vows to aid Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

16:45 , Matt Mathers

NATO is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed on Friday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Romania next week, Stoltenberg urged countries that want to, either individually or in groups, to keep providing air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine. NATO as an organization does not supply weapons.

Full report:

NATO vows to aid Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

UK to commit ‘action not just words’ to Ukraine, says Cleverly

17:15 , Emily Atkinson

Foreign Secretary James promised president Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK will commit “action - not just words” in its support of the war-torn nation.

Mr Cleverly met with the Ukrainian president during a visit to Kyiv, just days after Rishi Sunak travelled to the the country’s capital.

He said the UK intends to keep its pledge to offer “concrete” assistance, as words alone “won’t keep the lights on” or “defend against Russian missiles”.

It came as Mr Cleverly announced a package of “hands-on” support to help the nation through the winter.

Kyiv must be ‘far-sighted’ to secure peace, pope says

17:45 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine‘s leaders will have to be “far-sighted” to secure peace, Pope Francis said on Friday, suggesting that Kyiv would have to make concessions to end the war with Russia.

The pope earlier this month called for a ceasefire to avert the risk of escalation of the conflict and asked God to “hurry up” to end it.

In an open letter released on Friday to mark the nine-month anniversary of the Russian invasion, Francis praised the strength of Ukrainians in the face of the onslaught.

“The world has recognised a bold and strong people, a people that suffers and prays, cries and struggles, resists and hopes: A noble and martyred people,” he wrote.

He also said he was praying for Ukraine‘s rulers. “On them lies the duty to govern the country in tragic times and to make far-sighted decisions for peace and to develop the economy during the destruction of so much vital infrastructure.”

Ukraine’s four nuclear plant 'reconnected to grid’

18:15 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine‘s four nuclear power plants have been reconnected to the national power grid after completely losing off-site power earlier this week, the IAEA has said.

The facilities were all disconnected from the grid on Wednesday for the first time in Ukrainian history after the latest wave of Russian air strikes on vital infrastructure.

In a statement, the IAEA nuclear watchdog said Ukraine had informed it on Friday that its Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyy plants had been reconnected. Ukraine reconnected its vast Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday, Kyiv said earlier.

The Zaporizhzhia plant was shut down in September, but still needs electricity to keep up essential safety work.

Hungarian president to travel to Kyiv, reports suggest

18:45 , Emily Atkinson

Hungary’s president Katalin Novak is travelling to Kyiv to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy, website index.hu reported on Friday, adding Novak would go by train via Poland.

The Hungarian President’s office said it would neither deny nor confirm the information.

Fresh attacks on Ukraine sign of Putin’s ‘desperation’, says Ben Wallace

19:15 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s bombardment of critical infrastructure in Ukraine is a sign of Vladimir Putin’s “desperation”, Ben Wallace has said.

The defence secretary said the Russian president is targeting Ukraine’s power grid and other civilian infrastructure to “mask” his military failures.

Ukraine’s energy facilities have been pounded by a barrage of Russian missile strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.

Full report:

Fresh attacks on Ukraine sign of Putin’s ‘desperation’, says Wallace

Zelensky and von der Leyen ‘discuss energy stability'

19:45 , Emily Atkinson

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had spoken to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and discussed cooperation on ensuring energy stability for his country.

Mr Zelensky made the comments in a Twitter post but did not give details.

He also thanked Ms von der Leyen for starting work on a fresh sanctions package against Russia.

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Vladimir Putin says he speaks to soldiers in Ukraine on the phone

20:15 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin told a group of Russian mothers whose sons have been sent to fight in Ukraine that he sometimes speaks to troops on the phone.

Speaking during their meeting, Russia‘s president declared that he was “surprised” by soldiers’ moods during phone conversations.

“They give me good reason to say that they are heroes, it’s true,” he added.

According to the Associated Press, many military draftees are inexperienced with no training, and were told to procure basic items such as medical kits and flak jackets themselves.

More from our video team here:

Vladimir Putin says he speaks to soldiers in Ukraine on the phone

Watch: Smoke fills street in aftermath of Russian rocket attack on residential area of Kyiv

20:45 , Emily Atkinson