Ukraine: Zelenskyy accuses Russia of forcibly taking children

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In a chilling Presidential address, Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Russian forces had kidnapped and forcibly deported thousands of Ukrainian children. President Zelensky estimated around 200,000 children had been taken from Ukraine as part of Vladimir Putin’s scheme to conquer the neighbouring nation. The Ukrainian President suggested children had been targets in Putin’s ploy to ”steal people” as younger citizens were more likely to “forget about Ukraine” and easier to resettle in the Russian state.

President Zelensky said: “It includes orphans from orphanages, children with parents, and children separated from their families.”

The Ukrainian authorities allege the mass kidnap of children has been a particularly haunting aspect of Vladimir Putin’s plan to capture the Ukrainian population and “resettle” the nation within Russian territory.

President Zelensky continued: “The Russian state disperses these people on its territory, settles our citizens, in particular, in remote regions.

“The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people, but to make deportees forget about Ukraine and not be able to return.”

He suggested children, in particular, had become a target of the mass deportation conducted by Russian military forces as, due to their age, they would be more likely to forget about their homeland.

President Zelensky continued his pledge that Ukraine would emerge from the conflict victorious as he encouraged Ukrainian allies to support an urgent solution to the forced removal of his citizens.

He added: “We must find an answer to this challenge as well and to ensure that everyone who killed, tortured, or deported Ukrainians are held accountable.

“The inevitability of punishment is a principle that Ukraine will teach Russia.

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“First of all, we must teach them on the battlefield that Ukraine will not be conquered, that our people will not surrender.

“Our children will not become the property of the occupiers.”

An estimated 12.8 million Ukrainian people are thought to have been displaced since the outbreak of the war in February.

The UN has declared those displaced by the conflict “are traumatised and need urgent protection, including psychosocial support”

In addition to the forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children, Russian military forces have been accused of war crimes against civilians within Ukraine.

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As forces withdrew from the Russian-occupied towns surrounding Kyiv, evidence emerged of brutal attacks against Ukrainian residents, including the suggestion of torture and horrific executions.

A UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to the towns, which included Bucha as a notable site of Russian aggression, determined Putin’s military had participated in the “unlawful killing” of hundreds of civilians.

As Russia has refocused the invasion on the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine, intelligence suggests President Putin has made considerable advances in his plan to capture the area.

The Russian military has bombarded the town of Severodonetsk, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the Luhansk region.

The UK Ministry of Defence announced: “Russia has taken control of most of Severodonetsk.”

However, intelligence reports also suggest Russia will take a “short tactical pause” once the Donbas region is under the control of President Putin in order to address issues concerning low artillery supplies.

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