According to a US-backed assessment released on Tuesday, Russia has detained at least 6,000 Ukrainian youngsters in facilities in Russia and the Crimean peninsula, whose main function appears to be political re-education.
According to the paper, Yale University researchers found at least 43 camps and other institutions where Ukrainian children had been detained as part of a “large-scale systematic network” run by Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
As per the report, the children comprised those who had no parents or any obvious family guardianship, those who Russia designated as orphans, those who were in the custody of Ukrainian state institutions prior to the invasion, and others whose custody was ambiguous or unknown as a result of the conflict.
“The primary purpose of the camp facilities we’ve identified appears to be political re-education,” said Nathaniel Raymond, one of the researchers, in a briefing to reporters.
According to the article, some of the children went through the system and were either adopted by Russian families or placed in Russian foster care. The smallest child revealed in the Russian programme was barely four months old, and other camps were providing military training to kids as young as 14, according to Raymond. He noted that researchers had not discovered any indication that these kids were later sent into battle.
A request for comment on the allegations was not immediately answered by the Russian embassy in Washington. Moscow has refuted charges that it forcefully relocated Ukrainians, and denied deliberately targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The study is the most recent one created by the Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale University School of Public Health, as part of a project supported by the US State Department, to look into suspected war crimes and human rights abuses by Russia.
“What is documented in this report is a clear violation of the 4th Geneva Convention,” said Raymond, stating that the pact safeguards people during hostilities. He asserted that the transfer of children with the purpose of changing, altering, or erasing national identity might be seen as a component act of the crime of genocide, and may also constitute proof that Russia has carried out genocide during its struggle in Ukraine. In an effort to accuse Russia of committing genocide, Ukrainian prosecutors have said that they are investigating reports of the forceful evacuation of children.
According to academics, there have been more than 43 sites where Ukrainian children have been detained, Raymond claimed, adding, “This network stretches from one end of Russia to the other.”
The system of camps and the adoption of Ukrainian children removed from their homes by Russian families “appears to be sanctioned and organised at the highest levels of Russia’s government”, according to the study, starting with President Vladimir Putin and extending to local authorities.
According to the article, 12 people who are not currently subject to US sanctions might face punishment, according to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
“We are always looking at individuals who may be responsible for war crimes, for atrocities inside of Ukraine,” he said. “Just because we have not sanctioned an individual to date says nothing about any future action that we may take,” stated Price.
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