Ukrainian children, illegally deported by Russia, were sent for training with the Belarusian army

Pavel Latushka, member of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, submits evidence of the war crimes committed by Lukashenko to the International Criminal Court, June, 2023.

Ukraine and the Belarusian opposition accuse Russian ally Belarus of assisting in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus on a mass scale to subject them to pro-Russian indoctrination. 

A recent Yale University study indicates that more than 2,400 Ukrainian children aged 6 to 17 have been deported to Belarus from four Ukrainian regions – the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – where Russian troops hold partial control. 

On June 2023, former Belarusian Culture Minister and member of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus Pavel Latushka provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with evidence that spells out how President Alexander Lukashenko cleared the way for the forcible removal of Ukrainian children to Belarus. Latushka had handed over materials to the ICC indicating that 2,100 or more children from some 15 Russian-occupied cities in Ukraine had been removed forcibly to Belarus with Lukashenko’s assent. The ex-minister said he hoped the evidence he had provided would result in an ICC warrant for Lukashenko’s arrest, just as a previous ICC warrant had been issued last March for President Vladimir Putin.

On January 10, Belarus state television reported that authorities sent a recently arrived group of 35 Ukrainian children to the eastern Belarusian city of Mogilev to train with the army to learn how to evacuate in cases of fire. As reported by state television, these children arrived from Russian-occupied Ukraine and, specifically, from the town of Antratsyt.

The Belarus1 state television channel said the children are in a sanatorium under the custody of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. According to state television, the military teaches children to behave in extreme situations.

Pavel Latushka told the Associated Press that “Belarusian authorities are not hiding the fact that children are being indoctrinated.” 

Ukrainian children are being “subjected to re-education and indoctrination” to make them pro-Russian, Latushka said. 

According to Latushka, there are cases of Ukrainian children sent to Russia for adoption.

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine said it is investigating the deportation of the children as a possible genocide, including Belarus, for the alleged forced deportation by the Russian army of more than 19 thousand children from Ukrainian territories.

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova. Judges in The Hague declared they had found “reasonable grounds to believe” the two were responsible for war crimes involving the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia, charges Moscow vehemently rejected.

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