Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN said on Twitter on Wednesday that “Russian authorities have interrogated, detained and forcibly deported more than 19,500 Ukrainian children from their homes inside Ukraine to Russia.”
Moscow has said the children were removed for their own safety and that it is working to return those who have families or legitimate guardians in Ukraine. Lvova-Belova, who addressed the meeting via video, denied that any children have been formally adopted.
The United States, Great Britain, and several other countries sent only junior representatives to the meeting, who stood up and left the room as Lvova-Belova was speaking. Before the session began, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters outside the council chamber that “we do not support (UN webcasts) being used by an individual to report that we know he has committed war crimes.”
“If you want to be held accountable for your actions, you can do so in The Hague,” the website of the ICC, a spokesman for the British mission said in a statement.
ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes in Ukraine
The meeting was the latest confrontation over Ukraine at the United Nations, which has become the main venue for face-to-face diplomatic confrontations between Russia and the West. It was carried out under the so-called “Arria Formula”, which allows any member to call an informal meeting and decide who will report it.
On Monday, Thomas-Greenfield said Russia’s April 1 inauguration of the council’s presidency, which rotates monthly in alphabetical order among its 15 members, was “like an April Fool’s joke.” Russia last held the post in February last year, the month its invasion of Ukraine began.
“We expect them to conduct themselves professionally,” he said. “But we also expect them to use their seat to spread disinformation and further their own agenda when it comes to Ukraine, and we will be ready to call on them anytime they try to do that.”
Russia has scheduled several other council sessions on Ukraine, including one for April 24 to be chaired by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also plans to chair a second meeting on the Middle East the next day.
At a news conference Monday announcing his plans for the month, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Lavrov was willing to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken while in the United States, if “the secretary would like to have a meeting.” A State Department spokesman did not respond to questions about Blinken’s willingness to meet. The two spoke by phone last weekend about US demands that Russia release Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested last week on espionage charges.
Wall Street Journal reporter ‘wrongly detained’ by Russia, says Blinken
Both the United States and Russia have used the informal Security Council meeting format for the past year to express their positions on Ukraine, but all UN members must approve the live webcast of the sessions. Britain first objected, and the United States joined their effort.
Russia did not release the names of its invited briefers until Tuesday night. In an emailed note to council members, he said the meeting “aims to provide participants with objective information on the situation of children in the Donbass conflict zone, as well as on measures taken by the authorities.” rollers to evacuate children from danger. .”
“The mainstream Western media and some of the delegations,” he said, deliberately misrepresented the situation as “kidnapping, forced displacement (and) adoption.” Instead, the briefings would provide an opportunity to hear “firsthand” from Lvova-Belova and some of her own children.
Nebenzia began the session, which Russia broadcast on his YouTube channel, with videos showing women claiming to be Ukrainian mothers who had lost custody of their children after Kiev evacuated them to what the ambassador called “European slavery” during the war, specifically, to Germany, Spain and Portugal. She said it was a “widespread practice” for Ukrainian forces to remove children from combat areas whose families were “waiting for Russian soldiers to release them.”
The United States “has cynically accused us of kidnapping children,” Nebenzia said, accusing without elaborating that the United States had used “racist methods” to remove more than 2,500 children from Vietnam in 1975, allowed them to be adopted and later refused to accept them. give them up “when their Vietnamese parents showed up.”
In her presentation, Lvova-Belova showed staged videos of what she said were Ukrainian children in Russia: smiling, doing crafts, playing on swings and happily hugging their Russian caregivers.
“I hope this helps us understand the real facts instead of rumors or unfounded accusations,” he said.
He added that Russia had “hosted” more than 5 million people from Ukraine and the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which were illegally annexed by Russia last year, 700,000 of them children. “Everyone came with their parents or guardians,” including 2,000 who came with their “custodians” from orphanages or children’s homes. The decisions to evacuate them, he said, were “taken by the (local) authorities because there are no safe areas inside the Donbas.”
To date, Lvova-Belova said, “about 1,300 have been returned to their orphanages,” while 400 have been sent to Russian orphanages because the areas they came from were being “constantly shelled,” and 358 have been “placed in the homes of reception”.
The charges that Russia was taking children from Ukraine to Russia — illegal under international law, regardless of the reason — began shortly after the Russian invasion in February last year. In its statement on the war crimes charges, the ICC said “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that both Putin and Lvova-Belova bear “individual criminal responsibility” for the deportation and illegal transfer of children.
Russia has said it does not recognize the authority of the ICC, of which neither it nor the United States are members. But the arrest warrants are valid in the 123 countries that are party to the Treaty of Rome under which it was established.
Reports that several thousand children were taken from the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine last year were not true, he said. “They were not evacuated, but were first transferred to a hospital” in Donetsk in the Donbas. Subsequently, a group of 31 were sent to “a children’s sanatorium in Moscow.” Another 22, she said, were transferred to “temporary custody.”
Lvova-Belova said that while some Ukrainian children have been granted Russian citizenship, it was only to make it easier for them to receive services. All, she said, had also retained their Ukrainian citizenship and could decide at age 18 which nationality they wanted.
Responding to the Russian presentation, the French representative at the meeting called it a “cynical exercise in disinformation,” saying that “a lie repeated a thousand times is still a lie. … Madame Lvova-Belova has given a completely false version of the situation. … These are war crimes.”
One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine
Portraits from Ukraine: The lives of all Ukrainians have changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion a year ago, in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other in extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and dilapidated markets. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience, and fear.
Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has turned from a multi-pronged invasion that included Kiev in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated over a stretch of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between the Ukrainian and Russian forces and see where the fighting has concentrated.
One year of living apart: The invasion of Russia, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law that prevents men of fighting age from leaving the country, has forced millions of Ukrainian families to make harrowing decisions about how to balance security, duty and love, with lives that were once intertwined and have become unrecognizable. This is what a train station full of farewells looked like last year.
Deepening global gaps: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on the issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions have not stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.