In a shocking development in the ongoing war in Ukraine, Russian forces are accused of kidnapping thousands of Ukrainian children, forcibly adopting them into Russian families, and subjecting them to a process of indoctrination and brainwashing.
As Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) scramble to return these children to their families, the international community is calling Russia out for this war crime.
Ukrainian children are being used as pawns in Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine, says a new report released by The Associated Press. Ukrainian authorities are pushing for the return of thousands of Ukrainian kids forcibly adopted into Russian families.
"First of all, the numbers of the children vary anywhere from 16,000 that have been proven by name. It's 16,121 children," explained Nataliya Khomyak, Director of Operations for Orphan's Promise. "So it's by names, to over 300,000 that the Russian commissioner for children's rights is claiming that they've taken over. And these children have been illegally taken to Russia. These are Ukrainian children and given Russian citizenship and been adopted into Russian families, really illegally."
Last May, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed Russian adoption laws to simplify the process and enable these illegal adoptions.
"(A) majority of them do have living parents or relatives. And so they have been illegally, many of them have been forcefully separated from their parents. When the parents were taken into so-called 'filtration camps' where the parents have been checked for their allegiance to Ukraine and would be charged, you know, with that as a crime, and the children would be separated and taken into Russia or some into the occupied Crimea."
Sofiia Kornieieva, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer, recalled, "When the mother with her four-year-old daughter tried to go to past this filtration camp, and then they separate her from her daughter and she had to give her little daughter to some woman she even didn't know, and we still don't know what happened to her."
The children are often sent to remote parts of Russia, where they are brainwashed and turned against their own families.
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