“Dear Soldier”, 2022
Izium*, 9th of December, 2022 : Le Monde’s journalist Ariane Chemin and Guillaume Herbaut found a hundred letters sent by Russian students to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, found, amidst empty vodka bottles, toothpaste tubes and soggy pillows, in a former Ukrainian police station once occupied by the Russian army.
The letters reveal the propaganda orchestrated by Moscow via texts, drawings, and letters folded into a triangle, called “Treugolka” (an explicit reference to letters sent to Soviet soldiers during World War II).
The content of the envelopes leaves no doubt about the communication operation decided by the General Staff and the Kremlin for its soldiers sent to the front.
We find the inscription “Z”, this letter of the Latin alphabet inscribed since the invasion of Ukraine on the Russian tanks, which became in Russia a sign of support to the military operation decided by the Kremlin, but also the colors of the flag of the Russian Federation, childish drawings and all the war vocabulary ensuring the unfailing support of the population to its army.
* The city of Izium, located in the Kharkiv Oblast, under Russian control since April 2022, was liberated by Ukrainian forces in September of the same year. Along the so-called “forest cemetery” 477 bodies were exhumed. 30 of them show signs of torture, while others show evidence of gunshot executions.
“We and our parents are following the course of the special operation and the liberation of Donbass and the cleaning of Ukraine from Nazis. It is a pity that our two countries, Russia and Ukraine, have been pitted against each other by the US and NATO with the idea that we are liquidating ourselves. We know (…) that the Ukrainian Nazis are cruel in the Donbass to the civilian population and to the Russian army. We are following very well our courageous advances on the territory of Donbass while saving the lives of those who have been bombed for several years by the Ukrainian army. We are proud of you and we wish you to overcome the difficulties and horrors of war. We do not doubt that you will win, as we know about the heroic deeds of our army, which always wins in the end.”
On the back is written: “protector of the fatherland”, the letters “Z” and “V” in bold and capital letters. Mushlovitze school, Smolensk region.
“Hello dear soldier, you have gone to the front. I can only guess how scared you are and how difficult it is right now. You are risking your life, you are brave and courageous. We are proud of you. I don’t know who will receive this letter. I am addressing all the warriors of the Russian army who are participating in the special operation. You are brave, you are strong, the peaceful existence of the Slavic peoples depends on you. It is hard to realise that it is precisely you who must free the world from fascism. Take care of yourselves and be careful. I wish you to stay alive and return to your families. Don’t forget: Russia always wins, Russians always win. We are invincible. Thank you Russian servicemen for your commitment to the motherland. Hail soldier, good luck.”
Below, a star, a Z in the colour of the St George ribbon, “I am proud, Evgenia 16 years old”.
“Hello dear soldier, why am I writing to you, you ask? So that you know that you are not alone in the world. I thank you for your strength, courage, patience and other than elite heroes. I write this letter to thank you for your service and the Defence of the Homeland. The military service is not there to be to the fatherland, but the school of oneself. It is the school to acquire the qualities of a good protector. I believe that you, the present soldiers, will always be the good protectors in the . I imagine that it is difficult to be away from your home but you have to go through this ordeal to become a real brave and strong man”
Poem: “In every man’s life there is a special page. You have to serve your Fatherland, it will help you in life. Do your service soldier, but know that you are expected at home/ because in your hometown people like you are needed”.
Set of three identical letters “A prayer of Orthodox women”, accompanies a psalm, mimeographed header paper, stating that the text works miracles and protects from bullets.
“We address you this psalm of David 90, considered miraculous, worn as a talisman by soldiers of the imperialist war. After several decades, it was taken back. Later it was hidden in prisoners’ clothes. Those arrested would recite it in their summers when interrogated at night by investigators.”
“Dear soldier, we don’t know each other, but I am fascinated by your sacrifice and your courage. We wish you to overcome all the difficulties you will encounter in your military and civilian life. We wish you victory (…) come back alive and healthy.”
Student of Ostrogozhsk Medical College (18-21 years old), who wants to become a nurse.
“Hello soldier, my name is Xenia, I live in a village, I am very worried about the special operation and about everybody. In the 21st century, all these conflicts could be solved with words. Maybe it is complicated for you but with your protection neither I nor other Russians are afraid. The first days I was very afraid because I read a lot of lies on the Internet, and now I watch the news on TV and I understand that everything will be solved. I am very proud of my country and I am not ashamed to be born here.”
On the envelope: “We are for peace in the whole world” with the Russian flag.
“Hello dear soldier, I’m writing to you from Voronezh, my name is Danil, my handwriting is not great but I hope you will understand. Several planes are flying over Voronezh, otherwise the atmosphere is rather calm. I hope you will come back soon and everything will be ok for you. Bro, fuck these bandits… Crimea is yours. If you get this letter, let me know (danil_novikov27). I wish you courage, bro.”
“If you liked my letter, don’t hesitate to contact me. Smiley.”
Followed by a mobile phone number. Drawing of the eternal flame found on the monuments to the glory of the soldiers of the Second World War.
“There is a profession called defending the motherland. Our village is small but beautiful. People of many nationalities live here. In our school there are children of many nationalities, we are all friends and we live in peace. (…) Many thanks to you (…) for allowing us to sleep peacefully, to study and to dream.”
3rd class, 9 years old, children of several nationalities in their school.
“Dear soldier, thank you for your courage and bravery, I would like to wish you courage and victory. On behalf of the many families of Voronezh.”
“I like to draw tanks”.
On the back “Dear soldiers, when I grow up, I’ll go to war too. And I will defeat all the enemies, in the meantime, hold on, hold on. Thank you all for your bravery and for peace.” Mitya Karasiov, 6 years old.