'I support Putin': Mom mourns son killed in Ukraine

STORY: Crimean Olga Drozhevkina's son was killed fighting for Russia in Ukraine, five weeks after the conflict started.

But despite her grief, she still has faith in Russian President Vladimir Putin - and conviction that the West is stoking the ongoing conflict.

At a ceremony in the 28 year-old's memory, a plaque was unveiled on the wall of his house in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"He took part in the parade on Red Square, took part in the parade in Simferopol and in Kerch. They always valued him. He really loved the army, and I fully support the army and the Russian president. And no matter what, they won't break us."

Drozhevkina's stance highlights how many Russians perceive the war.

And the support which Putin, Russia's paramount leader since 1999, continues to garner.

Western powers have criticized Moscow's invasion as an attempt to claim Ukrainian territory, and prevent it turning towards the West.

But at home, Putin's approval ratings soared after he ordered troops into Ukraine, according to Russian state pollsters.

His latest approval-rating stands at 80.8%, according to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center.

Despite those numbers, anti-war protests were still held across Russia.

In March, an independent protest-monitoring group said more than 4,300 people were detained in demonstrations against Putin.

Drozhevkina casts Russia's soldiers as protectors fighting for peace, and believes Russians and Ukrainians to be one people - a view shared by Putin.

"The solution? They need to lay down their arms, the Americans. And Ukraine should not fall for the provocations."

"It's not anger. I don't know how to say it. I feel sorry for the Ukrainians. We shouldn't have allowed the thought into our heads that we were enemies. We're the same people. So, I just feel sorry for them."

Russia calls the invasion of Ukraine a '"special military operation" needed to rid the country of dangerous nationalists and degrade Ukraine's military capabilities.

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