Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday met soldiers wounded in Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and hailed them as heroes, in the first such visit since he sent troops into the pro-Western country.
Wearing a white medical coat, Putin chatted to soldiers at Moscow’s Mandryka military hospital, Rossiya-24 television channel showed.
After meeting the wounded men, Putin said at a televised meeting with government officials: “These are people who are risking their health and lives for the sake of the people and children of Donbas, for the sake of Russia. They are all heroes.”
Russia said on March 25 that 1,351 soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded in Ukraine. Authorities have not released any new figures since.
The wounded soldiers in pajamas decorated with the Russian army logo stood stiffly by their beds to answer questions about their family.
Accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin shook hands with the men.
The president asked one soldier about his baby son, telling him: “He will be proud of his dad.”
The president also asked doctors if they had everything they needed, receiving an affirmative answer.
Shoigu said Tuesday that Moscow was ready for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine in order to achieve the Kremlin’s goals in the pro-Western country.