The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has reported that since the beginning of the war, Russian soldiers have moved at least 555,128 children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to Russia.
Ukrainian authorities are obviously extremely concerned with this situation, especially in light of a new, simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship for Ukrainian children from occupied territories that came into effect at the end of May.
Now these children can be ‘legally’ adopted by new Russian families. In the process of adoption, a child can receive a new first and last name. With their personal data changed, tracking these children would be nearly impossible.
Through this adoption process and the potential change of name, Ukrainian authorities will be forced to classify these children as missing, and fear that locating them will be extremely challenging, as will returning them to Ukraine.
With the way these changes in the law in Russia are structured, these children once adopted into families can have Russian naturalization forced upon them. With this, they would not only lose their Ukrainian citizenship, but also find themselves essentially stranded in Russia without a way to return.
Despite the efforts of the Ukrainian government to track these movements, it has proved challenging. Russian data regarding the deportation of these children differs greatly from Ukrainian, as the Ukrainian government at the moment lacks the required presence in Russian-occupied areas to effectively monitor the situation.
As of September 2, according to Ukraine’s National Information Bureau, 7297 children have been deported from Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
Aksana Filipshina, spokesperson for child welfare within the Ukrainian parliament says: “73 percent of these children are from the Donetsk region, mainly from Mariupol. The second most are from the Kyiv region, and the third most from the Kharkiv region".
Darya Gerasimchuk, another official working in child welfare for the Ukrainian government, stated on 1st June that the actions taken by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian children have all the signs of genocide.
“The vast majority of children in Ukraine, and we are talking more than 7.5 million children, suffer from war, and It's not just about bodily injuries. This is a violation of the psycho-emotional state, and an absolute violation of all of these children's rights. The actions that the Russian Federation is taking in relation to Ukrainian children have all the signs of genocide against the Ukrainian people,” Gerasimchuk stressed.
The forced transfer of children from one national group to another is considered a genocide in accordance with Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide.
As a result of the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, 374 children have been killed and 723 injured. 225 minors are still considered missing.