Child abductions in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Genocidal abduction of children
Since the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior has been denying posts on social networks where individuals in the occupied territories give up children who were allegedly orphaned.

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian children have been abducted, deported, and forcibly adopted to the Russian Federation. The United Nations has declared that allegations are "credible", and that Russian forces have sent Ukrainian children to Russia for adoption as part of a large scale program.[1][2] An Associated Press investigation confirmed that Russian forces forcibly resettled Ukrainian children without their consent, lied to them that their parents rejected them, used them for propaganda, established summer camps for Ukrainian orphans and "patriotic education", and Russified them by giving them a Russian citizenship and parents,[3] with the aim to erase their Ukrainian identity.[4]

Estimates of the number of deported Ukrainian children to Russia range from 13,000[5] to 307,000,[6] without any indication as to when they could return back to their home cities. The Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General also claimed that nearly 800 children had died or disappeared in the process of deportation.[5] This would, according to international law, including the 1948 Genocide Convention, constitute genocide.[a]


The first reports of forced deportations to Russia came mid-March, during the siege of Mariupol.[7]

Already on 22 March 2022, Ukraine and U.S. authorities claimed more than 2,300 children had been "kidnapped" by Russian forces from Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.[8][9]


"I didn’t want to go, but nobody asked me... My friends and family aren’t here".

Anya, a 14-year old girl from Mariupol who was sent for adoption to Moscow[10]

According to a report by Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal and New Lines Institute in Washington, there are "reasonable grounds to conclude" that Russia is in breach of two articles of the 1948 Genocide Convention, among them the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia, in itself a genocidal act.[11]

On 30 May 2022, Vladimir Putin signed a decree that streamlined the process of giving Ukrainian orphans or those without parental care Russian citizenship.[12][13]

By 11 April, two-thirds of Ukraine's 7.5 million children had been displaced according to the U.N.[14] Ukraine's Human Rights Commissioner, Lyudmila Denysova, and U.N. ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, stated at that time that more than 120,000 children had been deported to Russia.[15][14] By May 26, more than 238,000 Ukrainian children were reported to have been deported to Russian territory.[12]

Ukraine raised the issue at a OSCE meeting in the beginning of June, where the head of Ukraine's mission Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk quoted a message from a Ukrainian child forcibly adopted, despite having close living relations.[16]

According to Ukrainska Pravda, Russia have taken 267 orphans from Mariupol to Rostov to be made Russian citizens, supervised by Maria Lvova-Belova. It also reported that Russian authorities had looked for and collected orphaned children, to be taken to an unknown destination.[17]

In June 2022, Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Defense Management Center, claimed 1,936,911 Ukrainians had been deported to Russia, of whom 307,423 of were children.[18]

On 7 September a United Nations official reported that there were credible accusations that Russian forces had sent Ukrainian children to Russia for adoption as part of a forced deportation programme, and the US ambassador informed the UN Security Council that more than 1,800 Ukrainian children had been transferred to Russia in July alone.[1]

On the Russian-occupied territory, thousand of Ukrainian children were taken by Russian forces to buses which drove them to Russia. Russian propaganda presented the arrival of these children as a humanitarian and patriotic gesture, describing them as abandoned children rescued from war. State-controlled TV stations showed officials giving teddy bears to these children in Russia. However, many of these children had parents in Ukraine, while in other cases their parents were either killed or imprisoned by the Russian forces.[10]


Ukrainian authorities have claimed Putin's decree to be a way to "legalized the abduction of children from the territory of Ukraine". They have maintained this "grossly violate[s]" the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.[12]

The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine also believes that the actions may qualify as a forcible transfer of children from one human group to another.[12] In a statement: "The most serious international crimes against children committed by Russian high-ranking officials and servicemen in Ukraine will be investigated, and the perpetrators will be prosecuted. Russia will not be able to avoid the strictest accountability."[12]

UNICEF Emergency Programs Director Manuel Fontaine told CBS News that UNICEF "are looking into how we can track or help on that", though stating they do not have ability to investigate at the moment.[14]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced on 15 June 2022 that her agency had started an investigation into allegations of children forcibly deported from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.[19]

Genocide scholar Timothy D. Snyder has stated that "[k]idnapping children en masse and seeking to assimilate them in a foreign culture is genocide according to Article 2 Section E of the 1948 genocide convention."[20]

See also


  1. ^ Article II. In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: ...
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


  1. ^ a b "UN says 'credible' reports Ukraine children transferred to Russia". al Jazeera. 8 Sep 2022. Archived from the original on 8 September 2022. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Human rights concerns related to forced displacement in Ukraine". OHCHR. Archived from the original on 2022-09-12. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  3. ^ Sarah Ed Deeb, Anastasiia Shvets, Elizaveta Tilna (13 October 2022). "How Moscow Grabs Ukrainian kids and makes them Russian". AP NEWS. Retrieved 13 October 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Doug Klein (7 December 2022). "Victory Over Russia Is the Only Way to Rescue the Kidnapped Ukrainians". The New Republic. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  5. ^ a b Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. Children of War. Accessed Dec 1, 2022.
  6. ^ "'Deporting Ukrainian children and "Russifying" them is jeopardizing the future of Ukraine'". Le Monde. 5 August 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  7. ^ Mark, Michelle (20 March 2022). "Thousands of residents in a besieged Ukrainian city were 'forcibly' taken to Russia, Mariupol city officials say". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Rory (22 March 2022). "More than 2,300 children 'kidnapped' by Russian forces, says Ukraine". Independent. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  9. ^ Cohen, Rebecca (22 March 2022). "US Embassy accuses Russia of kidnapping children amid reports it's deporting thousands of Ukrainians by force". Insider. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  10. ^ a b Emma Bubola (22 October 2022). "Using Adoptions, Russia Turns Ukrainian Children Into Spoils of War". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  11. ^ Borger, Julian (27 May 2022). "Russia is guilty of inciting genocide in Ukraine, expert report concludes". Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Putin's decree "legalizes" abduction of children from Ukraine - MFA". Ukrinform. 31 May 2022. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  13. ^ Dawson, Bethany (9 April 2022). "Russia to fast-track adoptions of Ukrainian children 'forcibly deported' after their parents were killed by Putin's troops, authorities say". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  14. ^ a b c Falk, Pamela (11 April 2022). "Almost two-thirds of Ukraine's 7.5 million children have been displaced in six weeks of war, U.N. says". CBS News. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  15. ^ Ochab, Ewelina U. (10 April 2022). "Ukrainian Children Forcibly Transferred And Subjected To Illegal Adoptions". Forbes. Archived from the original on 11 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Ukraine at OSCE talks about abduction of children by Russians". Ukrinform. 2 June 2022. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  17. ^ Zagorodnyi, Mykhailo (31 May 2022). "Invaders deport children from Mariupol and Volnovakha to Rostov Oblast, Russia: they want to turn them into Russian citizens". Ukrainska Pravda. Archived from the original on 2 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  18. ^ Petrenko, Roman (19 June 2022). "Russia says more than 300,000 Ukrainian children "deported"". Ukrainska Pravda. Archived from the original on 5 July 2022. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  19. ^ "UN Probes Allegations Russians Adopting Ukrainian Children". Barron's. Agence France-Press. 2022-06-15. Archived from the original on 2022-07-15. Retrieved 2022-07-15.
  20. ^ "Timothy D. Snyder on Twitter, 1 June 2022". Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
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