Ukraine urges Russians not to adopt nation’s war-hit ‘stolen’ children

Ukraine children

Ukraine children

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has urged the Russian people not to adopt children whom she claimed Russian authorities had “stolen” from Ukraine during the early months of the brutal war and deported to Russia.

It is impossible to establish the actual enormous number of children who have been illegally taken from Ukraine and forcefully deported to Russia, but it is certain that Ukrainian children have been separated from their parents without consent.

Most of the movement of people and children occurred in the first few months of the war, probably before Ukraine started its major counteroffensive to regain lost territories in the east and south from the Russian forces. Vereshchuk, who is also in charge of social issues, said on the Telegram messaging app, “I strongly recommend that Russian citizens do not adopt Ukrainian orphans who were illegally taken out of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.”

She reiterated that orphans had been “stolen in Ukraine” and allegedly given up for adoption in Russia. “Once again I remind all Russian so-called ‘adoptive parents’ and ‘guardians’: sooner or later you will have to answer.”

The war with Russia is now in its 13th month and has seen millions of people displaced and devastated, including families and very small children.

Earlier in March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, accusing them of the heinous war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Integration of Occupied Territories, a mammoth number of 19,514 Ukrainian children are currently considered illegally deported.

Russia, on the other hand, has not concealed a state-run programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

The defence ministry in Moscow said in mid-August that 3.5 million people had been brought to Russia by then, including more than half a million children.

Russia’s forced deportation

In July 2022, the United States had said that Russia “forcibly deported” 260,000 children, from their homes to Russia.

Russia’s TASS news agency cited Vitaly Ganchev, the Moscow-installed official of Russia-occupied parts of the Kharkiv region, as saying on Tuesday that a group of children from the region was sent to Russia last year with the consent of their parents or guardians.

In what was an apparent admission to the war crime it stands accused of, Ganchev said, “The children were placed in excellent conditions, they are provided with everything necessary. And we will continue to take care of them until their parents come for their return.”

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