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Russia commits genocide against Ukrainian children, Zelenskyy’s top aide says

The image shows the first meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children in Kyiv, on 9 December, 2023. Credit: president.gov.ua

Russia is erasing any memories of Ukraine from the minds of deported children, the head of the President’s Office said at the first meeting of the International Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children.

Andrii Yermak called on the 72 representatives from different countries and international organizations, who participated in the meeting, to develop mechanisms that would help Ukraine to bring back the children illegally taken by Russian troops since the beginning of the war in 2014.

He emphasized that Moscow purposely conceals information on abducted children and ignores requests from the international community which makes it challenging for Ukraine to identify victims of the Russian aggression. 

“We already have a lot of information about how Russians abduct children, how they become victims of cruel treatment, and how their names are changed,” Yermak stated.  

According to the President’s Office head, the number of cases of illegal deportation is an indication of the genocide against the Ukrainian people by Russia.  

“Russians are creating systems aimed at erasing any memories of Ukraine in children. They set these children against Ukraine, against our culture, our language. Every day, they saturate them with fakes, misinform them, saying that their parents were killed or that their parents abandoned them and are not looking for them. The living conditions are extremely poor. It is genocide.

And the most dangerous thing is that in the 21st century, there are no real levers of influence, international organizations, mechanisms to bring these children home,” he added.

Yermak said crimes against Ukrainian children must be thoroughly documented as evidence for future investigations not only in Ukraine but also at the International Criminal Court.

In addition, at the meeting, Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets emphasized that Russia has been deporting Ukrainian children since 2014. 

“It has been almost ten years since occupiers abducted an eight-year-old child. Now, they are a young man or woman.

Children grow up very quickly, and Russia takes away not only their childhood but also their family, country, and nationality,” he stressed. 

According to the data of the Ukrainian authorities, Russia has illegally deported nearly 20,000 children from Ukraine.

On 17 March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, alleging they are guilty of the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

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