Vladimir Putin seemed to give a flippant response to news about the death of Russian soldiers in the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Ivan Kobzev, the governor of Irkutsk, had an audience with the Russian president at the Kremlin on Monday, and the topics of discussion included the Siberian region’s economy, as well as its investment and infrastructure projects.
However, Kobzev also told Putin that those from his region were effective fighters in Ukraine because “Siberians are reliable guys.” They have always been known “for their perseverance, courage and bravery.” Putin agreed with this as Kobzev added that, in defense of the “motherland”, 192 citizens of Irkutsk had been granted state awards.
“Among them, was the youngest, a hero of Russia, Private Eduard Dyakonov, who died in Mariupol in March last year,” said Kobzev, referring to the southern Ukrainian city besieged by Russian troops. After weeks of fighting, shelling and a three-month siege, Ukraine surrendered the city in May 2022, and it remains under Russian occupation.
“He covered a grenade with his body, thereby saving his fellow soldiers,” added Kobzev. “This is very valuable for us: for us, they are all heroes, they are in our memory, in our hearts.”
Putin’s response, according to the Kremlin website transcript, was “pass on my regards to them.”
Francis Scarr from BBC Monitoring tweeted an image of the excerpt of the conversation, writing: “Somehow this exchange between Putin and Irkutsk governor Igor Kobzev made it into the official Kremlin transcript of their meeting.
“Some social-media users likened the nature of Putin’s response with the meme in Ukraine regarding Russians who are killed in action, “Good health to the fallen.”
Denis Kazansky shared the tweet, posting that the “good health to the fallen” meme has turned into a “pass on my regards.” Twitter user Zonov wrote that Putin had taken the meme “to a new level.” Another, Lentach, tweeted that the exchange “literally” expressed that meme.
Newsweek has emailed the Kremlin for comment.
In the rest of the conversation, Kobzev went on to tell Putin about regional efforts to provide support for servicemen and their families. This included health care and rehabilitation. Kobzev then spoke more broadly about medical facilities in the oblast.
It comes as authorities in Ukraine reported on Wednesday that Moscow’s forces attacked 14 oblasts in the previous day, killing one person and injuring at least 19.
Under attack were the regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Luhansk, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Zhytomyr.