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Russia to release six Ukrainian children amid Qatar mediation

Qatar maintains its key role as a mediator, successfully securing the release of six more Ukrainian children and facilitating their reunion with their families in Ukraine.
A demonstration in support of the safe return of children taken from Ukraine during the war, in Brussels in February 2023. Credit: Avaaz/X

Russia has consented to the release of six Ukrainian children, enabling their reunion with families in Ukraine, a diplomatic success facilitated by Qatar’s intervention, as announced by Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on 5 December.

These children are among thousands displaced to Russia or stranded in Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine. Scheduled to depart from Moscow on 5 December, their journey will take them through Belarus back to Ukraine, the Washington Post reported.

“Building on the momentum of recent weeks, Qatar continues to mediate between the Ukrainian and Russian governments, successfully facilitating the reunification of six additional Ukrainian children with their families for the festive holidays,” Qatar’s minister of state for international cooperation Al-Khater said.

Al-Khater noted that these reunifications are part of Qatar’s initiative to identify and foster areas of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine.

The relocation of Ukrainian children to Russia or deeper into Russian-occupied territory has been a contentious issue during the 22-month-long war. Russia claims it is protecting children by moving them from front-line areas, often to summer camps in Crimea or coastal Russia. Ukraine claims this is an attempt to strip these children of their Ukrainian identity and indoctrinate them with Russian ideologies.

In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of war crimes related to the deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children. Lvova-Belova is among those Russians who have adopted a Ukrainian child since the February 2022 invasion.

This year, Qatar facilitated the release of other Ukrainian children from Russia, including Bohdan Ermokhin from Mariupol, who faced the prospect of military conscription in Russia following his forced relocation.

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