Ukraine War Day #278: A Mother’s Grief, Part I

Dear Readers:

I don’t like to get into numbers games about how many casualties, etc. War is war, and soldiers die. However, the best estimate I saw was from Brian Berletic on his “New Atlas” podcast, which you can find on youtube and Rumble. Using his best analysis and taking into account many factors, Brian estimates that, in the past 9 months of the war, something around 8,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. An average of around 1,000 per month, give or take. People can dispute these numbers; my main point being that it is not physically possible for the Russian President to meet personally with, and console, all 8,000 mothers of these soldiers.

Having made that point, today I have the story of Putin speaking with a selected group of mothers of Russian soldiers who lost their sons on the Ukrainian front. This is one of those sad but necessary political rituals that any wartime leader must perform. Looking at the photo, it seems like this was a morning meeting; and that the moms were treated with coffee, cake, fruit salad and pastries.

This meeting took place on Friday, Nov. 25, just 2 days before Russian Mothers Day, which is always celebrated on the last Sunday of November. Usually there are flowers.

We’ll start with this one, by reporter Andrei Rezchikov, who tells the story of Maria Kostiuk, who lost her son back in August.

Maria Kostiuk: “The main impression I took from the meeting: The head of our government is fully informed about everything. He knows everything there is to know about the equipment [of our boys], the oversights of the military departments, the combat battalions, the types of officers, everything. My son told me that he had the good fortune to serve under the kind of boss who did not treat his subordinates as simply soldiers [but rather had a fatherly attitude towards them]. The President is fully aware, just how painful it is for us mothers to talk about the loss of our sons, because it is simply impossible to pick the right words when speaking about our pain.”

Maria is not just any mom. She is the Deputy Chairman of the government of the Jewish Autonomy of the Russian Federation (Birobidzhan). Maria’s son was Senior Lieutenant Andrei Kovtun, who commanded a Company of motorized riflemen. It was on his second tour of duty that Andrei perished near the town of Spornoe, on the territory of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. According to Maria, her son fought at the front since the very start of the Special Operation and gave his life to save other soldiers. The very definition of a hero.

Putin speaks with Maria Kostiuk

Maria: “The President’s words convinced me even more that my son died fighting for a just cause. I had never doubted it, and I also believe in this cause, which cost my son his life. And it meant a lot to me that the head of our government recognizes my son’s heroic feat and treats it with respect.

“He came home [in between deployments]. On July 29 he turned 26. He was ecstatic that he was able to celebrate his birthday at home, for the first time in 10 years. And then on August 4 he was off to the front again.” On August 10 Maria’s son was dispatched on a mission to help extract a reconnaissance unit that had fallen into an ambush near the town of Spornoe. “He dashed into the fray to help the other lads, gave them covering fire. He was able to save the sappers. Andrei himself was killed, but thanks to him others lived.”

Andrei left behind a wife and son, Maria’s grandson: “Grief does not care, if you are an entrepreneur, a teacher, or a bureaucrat. Grief cuts to the human heart. I am the mama of an officer. But I am also the Deputy Chairman of the government of the Jewish Autonomy. I am that bureaucrat that everyone writes about, how we hide our loved ones from the army; that we try to sabotage the mobilization. I don’t know where people get these ideas, the other bureaucrats that I am familiar with, there are many counter-examples [to that stereotype].”

Maria reports that each of the moms that she knows, deals with her private grief in her own individual way. Some volunteer at military locations, even at the front lines, not as fighters, but helping to organize humanitarian aid, that sort of thing: “My comrade mothers are goal-oriented, strong, courageous, they so well understand the importance of what is going on, that, when talking about their sons, they struggle to hold back their tears. Although, I have to say, that at this meeting, everybody cried without exception.”

In the course of the meeting, Putin told the mothers that he is personally in contact with many of the individual soldiers, that he talks to them over the phone, and is always impressed with their dedication and their businesslike attitude about their work. The President stressed that the entire nation shares the pain of those who have lost loved ones at the front. The Russian government pledges to support the bereaved families in any way that it can.

[to be continued]

Advertisement
This entry was posted in Human Dignity, Military and War and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Ukraine War Day #278: A Mother’s Grief, Part I

  1. Sacha says:

    I watched how Putin behaved with care respect and responsibility. It’s not an easy task to talk to mothers who lost their sons.

    I have one question. Does Kostiuk sound like an Ukrainian name ?

    Of course as a civil servant she couldn’t openly criticize the boss, but I heard from a friend from southern Russia whose brother in law is on the Frontline that the president called the officer of his unit so it doesn’t seem to be a legend that he has calls with units and probably for him a way to bypass the reports from pure bureaucrats and hear soldiers voice, needs or complaints directly.

    The funny thing is that most French believe that putin is locked up in a bunker and never meets anyone as a paranoid dictator 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Kostiuk does indeed sound like a Ukrainian name. Maria’s son has a different surname, Kovtun, which could be either ethnic Ukrainian or Russian, not sure. I wonder if that is his father’s name, or maybe Maria got divorced, or whatever. I also wondered if Maria is Jewish, because she is an official in the Jewish autonomy. But I’m not sure what the requirements are, I don’t think you have to be Jewish to live there, or even to be in the government. Well, maybe I’m just being nosy, but I get curious sometimes!

      Like

      • Sacha says:

        It’s not a requirement since there was never really a Jewish majority even during the soviet union and emigration grew after the collapse, people seeking an opportunity to leave a remote not that developed area for America or Israel. I recently happened to talk (at hospital, the seat next to mine) to a lubavich rabbi who came back from russia where they work to keep people live there and maintain a Jewish life inside Russia. I asked how he goes and he uses his Israeli passport to fly to turkey then Baku and then Russia. I was glad to see someone who had some common sense and had a coherent speech about Russia, compared to the local hysterical political correctness.

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          If they want to maintain any kind of Yiddish culture (like literature or theater), then I think it would have to be in Birobidzhan. As far as I know, the Israeli state does not encourage the Yiddish language. I could be wrong.

          Like

          • Sacha says:

            You are right, Yiddish was believed to be a language of galut (exile) and Hebrew of revival but also of secularism and modernism since most religious jews from eastern Europe refused to use a holy language for daily life and I’m not talking about swearing in Hebrew. Besides this oriental jews had no clue with a mixe of German Slavic and Hebrew while they knew and spoke enough Hebrew to have something in common with other jews in the holy land. The idea of disconnecting with the tragedy of the European past went as far as adopting most oriental Jewish phonological features (and not European ones like the letter tav pronounced t in modern Hebrew and in oriental Hebrew and s in Yiddish area). But as these linguists who created this revolution were Europeans they couldn’t speak some letters as oriental jews could in an Arabic speaking world. You can hear the difference in Ofrah Hazah early songs with a pure and gorgeous Yemeni accent on one hand and her more famous songs in which she adjusted to the main Israeli accent (oriental with European accent ). Even me who is not a Hebrew native speaker and has nothing more than like A2 levels I can hear the difference.

            I have no idea how many Yiddish speakers as mother language still remain there in the Birobidjan

            Like

            • yalensis says:

              Thanks for your erudition, Sacha. I also don’t know how many Yiddish speakers left in the world, whether in Birobidzhan or the Bronx, or anywhere else. Hopefully there are some left, because this is a vibrant language.

              Well, something is always lost, when any human language dies out.

              Like

              • Sacha says:

                Totally agree with you. That’s why I am passionately in the different languages spoken in the russian federation to a point I’m writing a book about some. Even if Russia does its best to keep national languages as heritage from the soviet Era during which some were written for the first time, they are still vulnerable and some disappear because people need to look for Jobs and have to speak the language used by the majority. It’s still worth to know about Vepsän or Lezgi peoples

                Like

              • yalensis says:

                Any language on the verge of dying out, I would recommend professional linguists be dispatched as soon as possible to collect utterances from still-alive native speakers. And also make sure there is some kind of alphabet assigned (I don’t care which so long as it’s phonemic), and everything written down as soon as possible, including vocabularies and grammar. With Soviet languages, this shouldn’t be a problem, because Communists were quite diligent about this sort of thing. I mean, it was part of the core philosophy of Leninism. Say what you will, but nobody can fault them on that. Hey, they even gave a chunk of prime real estate in Siberia to preserve Yiddish culture!

                Like

  2. the pair says:

    as sad as the whole affair is, it’s refreshing to see a leader stare the consequences of his (or her) actions right in the eye. whatever issues putin may have (which, as a non-russian are none of my damn business) he always manages to look better than the venal middlemen running our sinking ship.

    it also bears mentioning that the jewish lady’s son could have just moved to israel, joined the IDF and alternated between sitting around listening to his hair grow and shooting at palestinian children. he chose actual battle for his actual home. a good mensch.

    not that it wasn’t already sickening, but this further shows the western gloating over dead russians for the subhuman scum behavior it is. (on that note: f_ck dave chappelle.)

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      I didn’t see whatever it was that Dave Chappelle did that made you mad, and maybe I don’t even want to know. Frankly, I was done with that narcissist a while ago but maybe for different reasons!

      Like

    • Sacha says:

      Not so sure bring from Birobidjan means someone is Jewish. Most inhabitants are of Slavic ethnicity there.

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        I guess things have changed. Back in Soviet times Birobidzhan was supposed to be a homeland for Yiddish-speaking Russian Jews. As far as I know, Yiddish is still considered the official regional language; but I reckon probably everybody speaks Russian there.

        Like

  3. Bukko Boomeranger says:

    [to be continued]

    And that’s the sad thing — the slaughtering is going to continue until one side no longer has anyone left to bleed…

    Like

  4. Daniel Rich says:

    Blood is red, no matter where it flows on this planet I think it is both courageous as well as compassionate, for H.E. V.V. Putin to sit in 1 room and at 1 table with mothers that have lost their sons in a conflict or war.

    I like what ‘the pair’ said [above], ” it’s refreshing to see a leader stare the consequences of his (or her) actions right in the eye.” Well said, sir.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s