Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the Kremlin's handling of the war dead on Sunday, saying the Russian government's treatment of its soldiers killed in action is worse than how one handles a dead cat or dog.
Zelensky made the comments to four Russian journalists in an hour-and-a-half-long interview over Zoom. He said dead Russian soldiers are either being abandoned in Ukrainian territory or slowly and hesitantly being taken back to Russia by its military forces in "garbage bags."
"They [the Russian side] first refused, then offered us some bags ... It all looks like ... You know, even when a dog or a cat dies, people don't do so. These are garbage bags," Zelensky said on Sunday.
Zelensky said the Russian people and families of the fallen soldiers should be outraged at Russian officials' disregard for the war dead. The Ukrainian president also expressed he could not understand why military families in Russia were accepting this level of treatment for their loved ones killed in action.
"I don't understand what people think, what the parents of these children think," Zelensky said. "In their place, I would have burned everything I see. Our people would have beaten up a local person in power."
The Ukrainian president said he believes the Kremlin's treatment of its own fallen soldiers should serve as a warning for how the regime will treat Ukrainians and others.
“It’s scary because when this is how they treat their own people, then how do they treat others? It’s barbarism, and it will end badly," Zelensky said.
As many as 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, wounded, taken prisoner, or are missing in Ukraine, according to a report last Wednesday citing a NATO official.