A Russian mother recently shared a heartbreaking story with CNN about her son, who died soon after being recruited to fight in Ukraine. The mother, Yulia, revealed that her son, Andrei, lasted only three weeks before losing his life on the frontlines. Adding to the tragedy, Yulia received a letter from the Defense Ministry that falsely marked Andrei’s death as the same day he left prison.
The article published by CNN sheds light on the reality of Russian warfare, featuring testimonials from soldiers and their families. These accounts highlight the devastating impact of the war on Russian citizens. To protect their safety, CNN changed names and removed identifying details, as speaking to Western media about Russia’s war is considered illegal.
Since the war began in February 2022, Russia has recruited thousands of prisoners, offering them freedom in exchange for their service. However, these poorly-trained soldiers have often been used as disposable infantry, resulting in a high number of casualties. The tactic initially employed by the Wagner Group has now been adopted by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Andrei, who went to prison for minor drug charges, seized the opportunity for freedom after serving three years of his nine-and-a-half-year sentence. Yulia explained that her son’s motivation was not financial gain but rather the chance to regain his liberty.
Tragically, Andrei’s journey ended in his untimely death on the eastern front lines. His mother received messages and videos from him during his brief training, but their last communication was on May 8, just before his unit was sent into battle. Yulia spoke to relatives of other convict soldiers recruited from the same penal colony, who confirmed that around 60 Russian soldiers lost their lives in the May 9 attack.
Although Yulia’s claims have not been independently verified by CNN or Insider, she disclosed that she has yet to receive her son’s body or any of his belongings. The only correspondence she received was a letter from the Ministry of Defense, which falsely stated the date of Andrei’s death.
Yulia expressed her fears about her son’s involvement in the war, admitting that she was afraid he might harm others. She struggled to come to terms with the idea of him returning as a murderer. Despite the difficulties she faced, she still loved her son and found it easier to accept him as a drug addict than a killer.