Russian forces are removing thousands of Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia, it has been claimed.
The US embassy in Kyiv wrote on Twitter that 2,389 Ukrainian children from Donetsk and Luhansk in the disputed Donbas region had been “illegally removed”, citing the Ukrainian foreign ministry.
“This is not assistance. It is kidnapping,” it said.
According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Russian forces have illegally removed 2,389 Ukrainian children from Donetsk and Luhanks oblasts to Russia. This is not assistance. It is kidnapping.
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) March 22, 2022
Earlier this week, Mariupol city council alleged Russian forces had forcefully deported several thousand people from the besieged city last week, following Russian reports of “refugees” arriving from the strategic southern port.
“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents were deported onto the Russian territory,” the council said in a statement on its Telegram channel on Saturday night.
“The occupiers illegally took people from the Livoberezhniy district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing.”
These claims have not been independently verified by Sky News.
Russian news agencies have said buses have carried several hundred people Moscow calls refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, America’s ambassador to the UN, said at the weekend the allegations of forced civilian deportations from Mariupol were “disturbing” and “unconscionable” if true.
“I’ve only heard it. I can’t confirm it,” she told CNN. “But I can say it is disturbing. It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”
“Russia should not be moving Ukrainian citizens against their will into Russia.”