Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Where are Russia's soldiers' mothers now?

Fri31  Mar04:45pm(15 mins)
Bute Hall


Jennifer Mathers1; Natasha Danilova2
1 Aberystwyth University, UK;  2 Univirsity of Aberdeen, UK


This paper explores some of the complexities in the responses of women in Russia to the war in Ukraine. In contrast to Moscow's wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, which provoked a strong groundswell of women's and especially maternal opposition and marked the founding of one of Russia's best-known civil society organisations, the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, the responses by women in Russia to the current war in Ukraine have been much more varied. Alongside cases of vocal opposition to war and demands that the state release their male relatives from military service, there are numerous examples of women supporting the "Special Military Operation", and women whose vocal activism demonstrates the intertwining of Putin's militaristic, masculine patriotism with the stories of personal loss, despair and "everyday" struggle directed at finding the body of their dead sons/male relatives, claiming state-promised compensations, and demanding the appropriate recognition of soldiers' service. The paper will draw on academic scholarship from Feminist International Relations, society-military relations and memory studies, all of which help us to explore the emerging parallels and differences with responses by Russia's women to the three decades of conflict, from Chechnya to Ukraine.