By Paul Goble
The number of wounded Russian servicemen returning from combat in Putin’s war in Ukraine has overwhelmed the capacity of the hospital services of the defense ministry. As a result, the Union of Veterans is seeking authorization to collect money from businesses and the entire population to help support their treatment.
Ministry officials insist that the wounded are getting nothing but the best care, but the fact that the Union of Veterans has appealed first to the defense ministry and then to the government to allow it to collect money for this cause suggests that the system is becoming overburdened (nvo.ng.ru/realty/2022-04-28/3_1187_support.html).
Media attention has focused on the impact of those soldiers who have returned in coffins and of those who have come back and shared their experiences positive and negative with the population. But the wounded also merit attention not only out of humanity because their return especially if they are seriously wounded will only grow with time.
Those of a certain age will remember the large number of invalids from World War II who in earlier decades were to be seen on the streets of major Soviet cities. They served as a reminder of that conflict for decades after it ended. Now, something similar is in prospect from Putin’s war in Ukraine.
For some, the existence of such wounded veterans will be a mark of patriotism and even pride that Russians fought the good fight as far as the Kremlin and they are concerned. But for others, such people will be yet another black mark on a regime that has sacrificed its own people for its own survival and geopolitical aspirations.