Berlin hosts discussion of Russia abducting Ukrainian children amid war

Berlin hosts discussion of Russia abducting Ukrainian children amid war

The panel discussion "Return the Kids to Ukraine: Abduction of Ukrainian Children" was held on September 7 at the premises of the German Bundestag with the participation of politicians, diplomats, experts, lawyers, volunteers, and journalists.

This was reported by an Ukrinform correspondent.

"This topic has so far not been adequately covered for German society, so now the Ukrainian side is making efforts so that decision-makers and, most importantly, the general public, are aware of these terrible facts," said Oleksiy Makeiev, Ukraine's Ambassador to Germany .

According to him, in order to return every child, Ukraine needs the attention of the whole world because this humanitarian tragedy bears the signs of genocide. Makeiev noted that there is already an agreement that Germany’s main TV channels will air reports. In particular, Paul Ronzheimer (who constantly covers the war in Ukraine, in particular, from the front line and does interviews with Ukrainian leaders, and on September 7 took part in the discussion in Berlin - ed.) will make several reports and podcasts.

Read also: Ombudsman’s Office aware of dozens of places in Belarus where Ukrainian children are kept

Russia confirms that its forces took children from Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian authorities do not trust the Russian figures (over 700,000 - ed.), noted Daria Herasimchuk, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights and Health.

"We consider it exaggerated, just like anything spread by Russian propaganda. We are convinced that the Russians could potentially abduct about 200,000-300,000 Ukrainian children, because this is how many children lived in the temporarily occupied territories," Herasimchuk said. Exactly, the Ukrainian side is aware of 19,546 children deported to Russia or Belarus. So far, only 376 have been returned.

In general, almost 7 million Ukrainian children were affected by the war – either physically or psychologically. The Russians seek to mutilate the lives of children in Ukraine, to cripple them so that they experience maximum mental pressure, and another task of theirs is to Russify and militarize those children so that later they return to Ukraine as Russian soldiers, the Commissioner said. She called for the creation of a global child protection system because this could be a problem for other countries as well.

Read also: 1,184 children missing in Ukraine

Ukraine is doing a lot to investigate crimes against children, but also all war crimes committed by Russians on the country’s territory. According to Yulia Usenko, the head of the Department for Protection of Children's Interests and Violence Response at the Office of the Prosecutor General, Ukraine has initiated more than 100,000 criminal proceedings on the commission of war crimes on the territory of Ukraine by the Russian military. Of these, 3,222 are crimes against Ukrainian children. These include murder, torture, sexual violence, abduction, deportation, forced displacement, attacks on schools, hospitals, denial of humanitarian aid, etc. The assimilation of children into Russian society is nothing more than the forced transfer of children from one national group to another.

"On the legal front, of course, we want to see the support of other countries, including Germany, in terms of running joint investigations, for Germany to join the mechanism of universal jurisdiction. All countries that share with us the need for those responsible for committing crimes on the territory of Ukraine to be held accountable should work together with us to obtain evidence on the legal front and show readiness to bring to justice all those involved in the commission of international crimes, despite diplomatic immunity," said Usenko.

Photo: Olha Tanasiychuk

What Russia is doing "bears signs of genocide, of attempts to destroy the nation because cultural destruction is also destruction... Putin and Lvova-Belova bear personal responsibility," said former member of the Bundestag, head of the Liberale Moderne Center Marilouise Beck. She noted that the policy of the West, including Germany, of engaging and doing business with Russia contributed to the war. Now it seems that the West does not really want the complete defeat of Russia, but only hopes that Putin will be weakened. But "Putin has a long breath", in 2-3 years the Russian defense industry will be working at full capacity, so the West should provide modern weapons to Ukraine immediately.

CDU MP Roderich Kiesewetter agrees with Beck, noting the blocking by Berlin and Paris of Ukraine's prospects for NATO membership, Germany's purchase of cheap energy to the point of economic dependence on the Kremlin, the spread of Russian narratives in Germany, and the existence of a strong pro-Russian lobby in the country. And currently the leitmotif is: "the main thing is not to become a party to the conflict."

"We have to do everything now that we would do for our own safety,” the MP said.

Volunteers who took part in the discussion spoke of the specific examples of their work in searching for and rescuing children. This was the first such public event held in Germany, dedicated to the problem of child abduction in Ukraine by Russia’s invasion forces.

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