In violation of Ukrainian law and international law: Russia is displacing Ukrainian children en masse

According to the Ukrainian government, as of March 19, 367 Ukrainian children were injured and 205 were victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As this aggression continues, Russia continues to violate the basic rights of children – life and security. By shelling and bombing civilian infrastructure, the Russians killed parents and abducted children in the territories of Ukraine, which they invaded and temporarily occupied.

Some sources claim that more than 121,000 children were forcibly exiled in Russia. These include both orphans and children who have parents. In an act of modern slavery, Russia abducted Ukrainian children and deported them against their will in the Vladimir, Omsk, and Chelyabinsk regions of Russia and the eastern island of Sakhalin.

Some of the children were moved from Mariupol to Donetsk (temporarily occupied by Russia) and then to Taganrog in Russia. The Russian Federation is trying to justify the illegal transfer of children on the pretext of “caring for” orphans. But all of them, along with the children’s communities, were evacuated from Mariupol on February 24-25.

The Kremlin is once again choosing the well-known scenario of 2014 when Russians forcibly relocated hundreds of Crimean children to Russia on a so-called “train of hope” for further adoption. Russia has therefore been removed from the European network of children’s ombudsmen.

Currently, at Putin’s initiative, the State Duma of Russia is working on legislative changes that facilitate the adoption process. This shows that they plan to adopt young Ukrainians without “unnecessary” examinations and legal provisions to conceal the location and information about illegally displaced children.

If these amendments are adopted, it will be almost impossible to change the marital status and return the children to Ukraine. This is also a major violation of Ukrainian law, which regulates the special procedure for the adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners.

This is controlled by the National Social Service of Ukraine. And the Kremlin’s actions violate Articles 7 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN) and Article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Armed Conflict. The latter prohibits the forcible relocation of an individual or group of civilians.

The Russian army shamefully uses these children as a “human shield” against the Ukrainian armed forces. On April 11, in Volnovakha, Russian invaders forced students to return to their local school despite their proximity to the battlefield. According to international humanitarian law, children must be especially protected during armed conflicts.

The Center for Counteracting Ukraine’s Disinformation has confirmed that Russia is using displaced Ukrainian children for propaganda purposes. The Kremlin media is broadcasting interviews with deported Ukrainian children, whom propagandists call “spies” acting against the Russian military.

For example, these pseudo-journalists spread disinformation with headlines such as “The Ukrainian regime is sending children to war, following the example of the Third Reich.” Putin’s propaganda uses alleged interviews with Ukrainian children and claims that “it is these children who have been spying from the very beginning of the special operation in Ukraine.” The use of children in the information war is another gross violation of international law committed by Russia.

We understand that the Kremlin plans to set up institutional camps for learning Russian from displaced Ukrainian children. They will be created for children who do not speak Russian well and cannot study in Russian schools.

It is alleged that the purposes of the illegal resettlement of Ukrainian children are:

  • Russia is gathering future human resources for its law enforcement agencies.
  • Russia is trying to solve its demographic problem.
  • Russia is creating a group of ideologically brainwashed Ukrainians who can participate in the establishment of occupation authorities in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

This can be qualified as abduction and requires an immediate and strong response from the international community. In this regard, Ukraine called on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to take all necessary measures to prevent further illegal resettlement of Ukrainian children in Russia and to assist in the return of those already displaced to safe areas of Ukraine.

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