President Vladimir V. Putin visited wounded soldiers on Wednesday and announced a series of new social welfare measures and military benefits — an apparent attempt to show the Russians that he was aware that the war in Ukraine was entering its fourth month.
The Kremlin released short clips of Mr Putin dressed in a white dress and flanked by Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu greeting patients at a military hospital in Moscow. It was the first time the president visited the wounded since the start of the war, but his words were scarce: “He will be proud of his father,” Mr Putin told a patient with a 9-month-old son.
Later, Russian state television showed that Mr Putin was meeting senior government officials in the Kremlin. He ordered them to increase payments to military personnel deployed in Ukraine and to double childcare allowance for women in the military.
He said that while the military doctors he met on Wednesday had assured him that “they have everything they need”, the government must “respond quickly, quickly and effectively to all needs” in the medical care of wounded soldiers.
“They are all heroes,” Putin said of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. “Each of them deliberately exposes their lives to mortal danger, and they should be treated as such, as heroes.”
Russia’s defense ministry last released casualties figures on March 25, when it said 1,351 Russian servicemen had been killed in Ukraine.
Mr Putin also promised broader social measures, even though he reiterated his insistence that the Russian economy was not suffering as much as some had predicted at the start of the war. Pensions for non-working seniors, along with the minimum wage, will increase by 10 percent in June, he said.