hybrid invasion russia severing ties between ukraine and the next generation
Since February 2022, Russian soldiers have forcibly taken, described as mass abductions, thousands of Ukrainian children.
Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine, believes Russia’s mass abduction of children from Ukraine is a deliberate strategy to sever ties between Ukraine and the next generation that will defend the country. She said this was part of Moscow’s “hybrid invasion” of Ukraine. In March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova.
The Ukrainian government, as per the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has identified more than 19,000 children deported to Russia. Moscow says it has transferred children from Ukraine to save them from the horrors of war, or facilitating the adoption, or fostering of orphans.
But the OSCE says nonconsensual evacuations amount to war crimes. It said whatever the form of placement, Ukrainian children find themselves in an entirely Russian environment, including language, customs and religion, and are exposed to a pro-Russian information campaign often amounting to targeted re-education and military education. The OSCE highlighted that the Russian Federation is not taking any steps to actively promote the return of Ukrainian children.
Kateryna Rashevska, a legal expert at the Regional Center for Human Rights, claims children separated from their parents in filtration camps have been provided with Russian spelling of their names and new dates of birth to make it harder for volunteers in Ukraine and Russia to locate and return them to their parents. However, Rashevska also said that Russia indeed returns kidnapped children to legitimize itself as a savior.
Mariia Sulialina, head of the Center for Civic Education Almenda, believes Ukrainian children are a “resource” for Russia. She said they want to raise a new generation that will spread Russian values, they need a new generation of soldiers to throw them into war.
Simmons said there are children who come back from some of those engagements thinking that fighting Ukraine is the right thing to do. “Children taken or kept by Russia were subject to an extraordinary, relentless range of brainwashing, creating a psychological barrier between the kids and their parents.”
The British ambassador described this as utterly horrendous. “It’s horrendous on every conceivable level. It’s pretty clear that if you steal children from the country, you are doing it to cut off at the knees the idea that there is a viable next generation that will defend the country.”