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Russian diplomat claims Ukrainian children moved to Russia are being ‘saved’ from war

The deputy ambassador of Russia to the UN denied that his country was committing war crimes by transferring children in large numbers, and claimed its army was “saving” the children.

Dmitry Polyanskiy said to Sky News that “of course, it is not a crime of war.” In reality, we are saving children first and foremost from the Ukrainian Army. This is a smear against Russia that is exploiting the issue about children in war.”

Sky News spoke to orphans who were illegally taken to Russia and transferred there at gunpoint. They told us about their amazing escape and what it was like to live in institutions.

He stated that Russia did not violate Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions which relates to mass deportations.


“These people go to [Russia] on their own volition.” Since February 2014 there have been five million residents of Ukraine or the Lugansk or Donetsk Republics who came to Russia, including over 730,000 children. The vast majority arrived with their families or parents,” said Mr Polyanskiy.

“Ofcourse, there are orphans. But these orphans will be temporarily taken by foster families.” It’s not guardianship or adoption. It’s something else.

He said that Russia is cooperating with Red Cross and international organisations who are working on the issue. However, he added that “the problem we have to solve is the need for direct concrete appeals by parents in Ukraine looking for their missing children”.

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Beth Van Schaack, the US ambassador at large for global criminal justice, claimed that Russia was systematically removing children from Ukraine.

According to Yale University’s Conflict Observatory more than 6,000 children have been relocated to camps. However, the ambassador believes that the number of missing kids could be much higher.

Beth Van Schaack is the US Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice

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Ms Van Schaack said that what was happening was “a grave violation” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which prohibits members of civilian populations from being deported or transferred from territory in an armed conflict.

She claimed that the children had been kidnapped.

They have been transported across international borders and sent to far-flung locations within Russia. In essence, they have been subjected, in the end, to sham adoptions.

This is the basis of the two arrest warrants issued recently by the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova Belova, the Children’s Commissioner in Russia.

Russia says it acted on humanitarian grounds by protecting children in areas of military action and hasn’t moved anyone against their wishes.

Photo: The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova Belova. Photo: AP

When asked why she didn’t believe Russia, Ms Van Schaack replied that Moscow couldn’t make such a claim since it “had in fact created the humanitarian crises” which “put these kids at risk”.

She said, “These children were in areas where Russians attacked civilians.” “So, Russia can’t turn around and claim that they are doing it for humanitarian reasons.”

She added: “But even if these people are trying to justify themselves as humanitarians, it is still the case that these children were taken.”

She claimed that “they have had their phone confiscated” – and they can’t contact their family, guardians or others who are looking for them.

They were not only taken to places of safety within Ukraine, but also taken to countries across international borders and sometimes to areas far away from Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin was pictured earlier this month in the Kherson Region. Pic: AP

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The deputy ambassador of Russia to the UN claims that his country is “accused” of “stealing children but we are actually saving children”.

The point of any humanitarian evacuation which might be permitted under the law of war is that they are temporary and must be immediately reversed once the conditions subside.

“None has happened. What we have instead seen is the forced abduction of Ukrainian kids and their forced crossing of an international border, and then subjected to sham adoptive adoptions.”

She alleged that “what we see is a very consistent and systematic practice and the creation of an essentially transnational infrastructure of filtering, which is used not only for exposing individual adults to filtration but is also used to locate and transport children outside of Ukraine.”

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She said that researchers had been able to identify several sites which were consistently being used for this purpose.

She said: “This indicates that it is not done locally by individuals who are doing this out of good will, but is rather a system.”

“In fact, their own admissions, of the two defendants, show that they not only acknowledge that this is in fact happening, but also praise the fact that it’s happening and brag about the fact.”

She said that neither the US Intelligence or the US observatory had “indications” of the practice ceasing.

She said, “There’s a lot of work being done on the human side to get these kids back.”

She said that a number of third countries have offered to take these children in and ensure their safe return to Ukraine to be reunited with family, guardians, and loved ones.

When asked if the threat to prosecute was a deterrent she responded: “It might not deter someone who is determined to continue this war and do so by committing war crimes and crimes of humanity.”

“However there are others in his inner circle that may think, “Okay, I’m not going to suffer this fate.” I don’t wish to face charges. I don’t wish to be charged for the system President Putin set up and the crimes and crimes committed against humanity.

“You can imagine people calculating whether they want to remain associated with what is essentially a criminal organization.

The hope is that other individuals within the Russian establishment will actively resist, defect, leave, turn state’s witnesses and be willing speak to investigators and prosecutors. This will help to remove some of the support that Putin has, which he needs to carry out war crimes and crimes by humanity on the scale that his troops do it.


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