How the Putin family’s ‘blood sacrifice’ may be driving the high Russian casualty rate in Ukraine – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

How the Putin family’s ‘blood sacrifice’ may be driving the high Russian casualty rate in Ukraine

The coffins of Russian troops displayed in the occupied Ukrainian city of Luhansk.


People who study Russia say war and a glorious death are ingrained in the national psyche.
Putin’s family suffered terribly in World War II, setting up an expectation for sacrifice.
Russian schools teach the value of “self-sacrifice,” preparing children for martyrdom.

Ukraine says Russia lost more than 6,000 soldiers in one week in its latest offensive trying to capture Avdiivka, a small city in eastern Ukraine.

Though it isn’t possible to verify its figures, an intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence estimates that Russian casualties since the invasion of Ukraine began total 290,000 wounded or killed.

The willingness of President Vladimir Putin and his generals to sacrifice thousands of soldiers in often-reckless assaults has become a blood-drenched hallmark of the war.

People who study Russia say war and a glorious death are ingrained in the Russian psyche, shaped by the collective memory of the extraordinary number — an estimated 27 million — in World War II.

Putin was born after the war, in 1952, but his family story in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War echoes that of many Russian families, says Gregory Carleton, a professor of Russian studies at Tufts University.

“His two uncles were killed on the front — his grandmother was shot by the Germans. His brother died from hunger and malnutrition. And his father was badly wounded,” Carleton told Insider. “So in his own family, they’ve already paid that blood sacrifice, and he did his duty during the Cold War. So now it’s very easy to call on the next generations. It’s their turn to come in the cycle.”

Jaroslava Barbieri, a researcher into the role of the Russian state at Birmingham University in the UK, sees today’s Kremlin under Putin as channeling and reinventing a Russian tradition that places a low value on an individual’s life at the expense of the nation’s destiny, reducing mobilized, untrained men to “cannon fodder.”

“So this complete disregard for individual’s human life is evident from the Russian military’s behavior on the battlefield where they just leave their dead bodies without collecting them, and bring them back home to their families,” Barbieri said.

Indeed, on Friday, a Russian soldier said to be overheard in an intercepted phone call to his mother describing huge losses and a forest “dotted with dead soldiers” during attempts to attack a village in eastern Ukraine.

“There’s such a slaughter going on there!” he says in the call, released by Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate, per the Kyiv Post, which noted that it could not verify the call’s legitimacy. “More than a thousand were killed there. The first and second battalion was thrown forward —- there’s a hell of a lot of 200s, even more 300s,” he continued, using military code for dead and wounded.

Ben Soodavar, a researcher within the department of war studies at King’s College London, recently wrote that self-sacrifice in war was part of Russian mythology and that the death of a soldier was “for Russia a step toward achieving the fantasy of national prestige.”

He said that the trauma of military loss did not discourage Russians from fighting in Ukraine but was rather seen as a pathway to martyrdom.

Death ‘washes away all the sins’

Russian service members taking part in a military parade in Red Square on Victory Day, marking the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.


Russia’s Orthodox Christianity has been coopted to glorify and elevate a death in battle.

“The official mantra of the Russian military is John 15:13, from the Bible,” Carleton said. “It essentially says, There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s brother.”

This theme emerged strongly in comments by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in September 2022, in which he was encouraging Russian men to join up and be killed — and be free of sin.

If a person dies in the performance of this duty, then they have undoubtedly committed an act equivalent to sacrifice,” Kirill said. “They will have sacrificed themselves for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed.”

Schoolchildren are taught to embrace the myth of self-sacrifice

Children pose on a destroyed Ukrainian Grad multiple rocket launcher system on public display at the central square in the occupied Ukrainian city of Donetsk.


But Carleton says that to retain the support of the public, Putin is more willing to dispatch certain Russians to the front lines than others.

“The war is being fought and bled by the marginalized communities socioeconomically speaking — and very often racially and ethnically,” Carleton said.

In Putin recruiting soldiers from villages in remote parts of Russia and among its non-Russian ethnic groups, Putin can avoid the perception of high casualty rates. Carleton cited estimates that for every soldier from Moscow who is killed, “another couple of hundred have died already in these villages.” 

“The deaths are being spread across the country,” Carleton said,but away from the major urban centers, because the major urban centers are where knowledge is disseminated,” Carleton said.

Meanwhile, pupils in Russian schools are being prepared to embrace self-sacrifice by Putin’s government, according to Barbieri, who described Soviet-style patriotic indoctrination programs that she said have intensified since the war with Ukraine broke out in the Donbas region in 2014.

She said this would ensure a focus on self-sacrifice in service of the Motherland would continue for the next generation.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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