More than 1,000 children are thought to have been taken from the occupied city of Mariupol and sent to different Russian regions for adoption. Russian authorities confirmed the news that more than 1,000 children have been “adopted” while around 300 are currently waiting to meet their “new families”.
Since the start of the war, Kyiv has been accusing Russian forces of “deporting” Ukrainians to Russia.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday: “The Russian Federation continues to abduct children from the territory of Ukraine and arrange their illegal adoption by Russian citizens.
“Over 1,000 children from Mariupol were illegally transferred to outsiders in Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, and Altai Krai [in Siberia].”
It said 300 more children were being “held in specialised institutions”.
The Russian Krasnodar Krai’s Family and Childhood Administration later shared a post confirming the children had been taken to Russia before deleting it a short time later.
It stated in addition to the 1,000 children who had already been “adopted”, 300 more were being held waiting to meet their “new families”.
It added that families who adopted the children would receive a one-time bonus from the state.
Ukraine’s intelligence service the GRU, also said that 30 children had been taken from the occupied Donetsk region under the guise that the children were participating in educational training programs.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry called for “all Ukrainian children, who were illegally displaced to the territory of Russia, [to] be returned to their parents or legal guardians”.
It accused Russia of actions that “grossly violate the 1949 Geneva convention” as well as the UN Convention on the rights of a child.
Some analysts have gone as far as to call the practice Genocide. The Institute for the Study of War said yesterday that the actions could constitute as such.
It said: “The forcible transfer of children of one group to another ‘with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’ is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
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The city of Mariupol was devastated during a siege which lasted several months from the start of the war. It is thought that more than 20,000 people died as a result of the fighting and shelling.
Several families from the city have said they were forced to flee to Russia, as opposed to other parts of Ukraine, to escape the fighting.
The news comes as Ukraine celebrates its 31st Independence Day, which coincides with six months of full scale war in the country following Putin’s February 24 invasion.
The date has led analysts to warn that Russia may step up the ferocity of its attacks as Putin loses patience with Moscow’s lack of progress.