Russia claims to have taken 700,000 Ukrainian children from war zone

Russian tank targeted on frontline in Ukraine

Some 700,000 children from Ukraine have been taken in by Russian authorities since the invasion, officials said yesterday.

The announcement drew global anger and renewed accusations of war crimes, with human rights groups saying the youngsters were effectively “hostages”.

While the Kremlin claimed to have given the children “refuge”, Ukrainian authorities accused Moscow of breaking international laws by removing them illegally.

Grigory Karasin, head of the international committee in the Federation Council – Russia’s upper house of parliament – said the country had brought the children from conflict zones in Ukraine.

He said: “In recent years, 700,000 children have found refuge with us, fleeing the bombing and shelling from the conflict areas in Ukraine.” Moscow has since claimed its “programme” of bringing children from Ukraine into Russia is to protect orphans and youngsters abandoned in the conflict zone.

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But Ukraine condemned the announcement and argued that many children have simply been illegally deported by Russian authorities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said: “The Russian Federation continues to commit its crimes in connection with Ukrainian children.”

Nathaniel Raymond, of the US’s Yale University Humanitarian Research Lab, said the news was “absolutely stomach-churning”.

This view was shared by the US government, with the White House claiming that many of the youths had been forcibly removed from their homes before being spirited over the border by Russian forces. War crimes prosecutors have been drawing up cases to be launched at the end of the conflict.

A warrant has already been issued for the arrest of Russian leader Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes against Ukrainian youngsters. And authorities in Kyiv said they have now collated reports of children being illegally deported.

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