Over 30 Ukrainian Children Returned from Russian Territories

Over 30 Ukrainian Children Returned from Russian Territories
© UNDP Ukraine via Flickr


Author: Jakob Lindelöf

Europe and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

On the 8th of April, over 30 Ukrainian children were returned from Russia or Russian-occupied territories to be reunited with their families after efforts made by the organisation ‘Save Ukraine’. This event occurred between the borders of Ukraine and Belarus and is the fifth type of these missions to be conducted by the organisation so far (Dabrowska & Voitenko, 2023).

Over the course of the war, Ukrainian authorities estimate that 19,500 children have been moved from Ukraine to Russia in what it claims are illegal deportations and abductions of children. Russia denies these claims that they are being moved for their own safety and into foster care as many no longer have guardians or guardians who can not be reached (Dabrowska & Voitenko, 2023; El Deeb, Shvets & Tilna, 2023). Investigations by Associated Press revealed that Ukrainian children who have been deported are told that they are unwanted by their parents, taken to Russia without consent, are adopted by Russian families, and granted Russian citizenship (El Deeb, Shvets & Tilna, 2023).

One aspect that is highlighted is the accusations of the attempts by Russia to erase the identity of Ukrainian children by deporting and giving them to Russian foster parents to raise and educate them as Russian (Camut, 2023). Foster parents are paid to adopt and children are offered re-education classes (El Deeb, Shvets & Tilna, 2023).

Last month, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights, on the basis of these alleged abductions as war crimes (International Criminal Court, 2023).

Sources and Further Reading:

Camut, N. (2023, March 17). ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over child deportations from Ukraine. Politico. Retrieved from https://www.politico.eu/article/icc-arrest-warrant-vladimir-putin-war-crimes-ukraine/ 

Dabrowska, A. & Voitenko, A. (2023, April 11). 'It was heartbreaking': Ukraine children back home after alleged deportation. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-returns-31-children-russia-after-alleged-deportation-2023-04-08/ 

El Deeb, S., Shvets, A. & Tilna, E. (2023, March 17). How Moscow grabs Ukrainian kids and makes them Russians. Associated Press. Retrieved https://apnews.com/article/ukrainian-children-russia-7493cb22c9086c6293c1ac7986d85ef6 

International Criminal Court. (2023, March 17). Situation in Ukraine: ICC judges issue arrest warrants against Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova. Retrieved from https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/situation-ukraine-icc-judges-issue-arrest-warrants-against-vladimir-vladimirovich-putin-and