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Putin seems withdrawn at Easter mass in rare public appearance

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Published: 01:59 BST, 5 May 2024 | Updated: 02:02 BST, 5 May 2024

President Vladimir Putin appeared withdrawn and downcast in a rare public appearance at an Orthodox Easter Mass in Moscow.

The Russian tyrant seemed to stare blankly out towards the congregation as he went through the religious motions during the mass.  

The 71-year-old’s mood could have been a result of claims that the country’s armed forces are looking 1,000 men a day on the front line in the conflict with Ukraine. 

Putin attended a service at the packed Christ the Savior Cathedral for a night-time Easter service led by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and an outspoken supporter of the Kremlin.

While the Ukrainian Defence Ministry estimates Russian deaths and causalities could total as many as 450,000, Russia has not released any figures since September 2022.

President Vladimir Putin appears withdrawn and downcast at the Orthodox Easter mass service, staring off absentmindedly into the distance

The Russian leader looked miserable as he went through the mass which was televised across Russia and went on throughout the night

Putin stood with Sergei Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow (right) inside Christ the Savior Cathedral for the midnight mass where they held thin red candles as a choir sang traditional songs

President Putin attended the televised traditional service late on Sunday with Patriarch Kirill delivering well-wishes to Orthodox believers.

A procession of white-robed clergy circled the vast cathedral, rebuilt in post-Soviet times and widely seen as symbolic of Russia’s rejection of its atheist past, as they swung smoking incense censers and chanted the liturgy.

Most Western churches observed Easter on March 31, but the Russian Orthodox Church follows a different calendar.

In his Easter address, Kirill wished for ‘God’s blessing over Russia,’ its people and all countries where the church has a presence.

But the Church’s Easter comes amid damming figures released by Kyiv which claims that Russia’s daily casualty numbers have surpassed 1,000 every day.

According to the latest figures from Ukraine’s armed forces and reported by The Express, Russia suffered 1,120 casualties in 24 hours making it the fifth day in a row where numbers of wounded or dead have risen to over 1,000.

Russian losses increased significantly towards the end of April after a period of intense fighting in the Donetsk region.

Despite Putin’s apparent misery at the latest statistics, Ukraine is continuing its offensive and his hoping to receive military assistance from the US soon. 

A Ukrainian airstrike against Russian troops. Recent figures released by Kyiv estimate that Russia is losing more than 1,000 troops a day and has lost more than 6,000 in the last 5 days alone

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church (pictured) and an outspoken supporter of the Kremlin led the service

Putin and the Moscow Mayor later exchanged gifts but during the service the pair appeared sombre

Britain’s armed forces have also revealed that Russia has suffered heavy artillery losses.

Tory minister Leo Docherty previously said ‘over 10,000 Russian armoured vehicles’ had been destroyed.

This included 3,000 main battle tanks, 109 fixed wing aircraft, 136 helicopters, 346 unmanned aerial vehicles and 23 naval vessels of all classes.

On top of this, more than 1,500 artillery systems have been destroyed, abandoned or captured by Ukraine.

Possibly in a nod to the dire situation Russia’s armed forces is now facing, Patriarch Kirill published a message to the Church’s website on Saturday.

He noted that ‘awareness of God’s love – gives us strength to overcome the most difficult mental states and difficult circumstances, elevates us above the bustle of everyday life, helps correct previous mistakes and destroys despondency.’

Ukrainian servicemen fire a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system towards Russian troops

Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armored personnel carrier (APC) in a field near Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, on April 27, 2024 

The patriarch this year appeared to steer clear from political pronouncements, unlike last April when he lamented ‘grave events taking place on our Russian historical land,’ referencing Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine and reinforcing the Kremlin’s narrative that Ukrainian statehood is essentially a fiction.

Putin was shown among the worshippers, standing next to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin as the two joined in the traditional Easter greetings but the President appeared depressed and miserable. 

The Russian leader was later seen exchanging festive gifts with Kirill.

Putin has been eager to portray himself as defending ‘traditional values’ espoused by the Russian Orthodox Church in the face of what he repeatedly casts as the West’s ‘degrading’ influence. 

The country has increasingly taken a conservative turn, with attempts to restrict abortion and broad bans against LGBTQ+ activism and gender transitioning that have met with the church’s support.

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