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US calls on Russia to immediately end deportations in Ukraine

With the number of Ukrainian citizens forcibly deported by Russian invaders to Russia estimated at between 900,000 and 1.6 million, the US called on Moscow to immediately release the Ukrainians it has forced out of their home country and allow outside observers, citing reports the Kremlin was putting Ukrainian children up for adoption and “disappearing” thousands of others.

“The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and  is  a war crime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

In his statement, he said reports indicated Moscow was “deliberately separating Ukrainian children from their parents and abducting others from orphanages before putting them up for adoption inside Russia”, and also “detaining or disappearing thousands of Ukrainian civilians who do not pass ‘filtration.’”

Ukrainian officials have slammed Russia for, as they put it, deporting hundreds of thousands of people from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine and forcing them into so-called “filtration camps”. Ukraine has called for support from the Red Cross.

Russia must immediately halt its systematic “filtration” operations in Ukraine, which have reportedly disappeared, detained, or forcibly deported from their homes approximately up to 1.6 million innocent Ukrainians, including 260,000 children.

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 13, 2022

Any attempt from virtually any actor to call Russia out on its inhumane treatment of civilians Moscow meets with fierce accusations of “Russophobia”. The Russian embassy in Washington provided no different response to Mr Blinken’s call either.

“Washington’s attempt to vilify the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is apparently connected with dissatisfaction with the success of a special military operation,” Russia’s embassy said in a Facebook post.

The Russian embassy went on to say that the humanitarian corridors were also operational in the region, adding that “statements about the forcible confiscation of Ukrainian passports are poor quality Western disinformation”.

Defining international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict, the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibits mass forcible transfers of civilians during a conflict to the territory of the occupying power, classifying it as a war crime.

“Estimates from a variety of sources, including the Russian government, indicate that Russian authorities have  interrogated,  detained  and  forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children, from their homes to Russia – often to isolated regions in the Far East,” Secretary Blinken said ahead of a conference scheduled on Thursday to address “accountability” in the ongoing conflict.

Ever since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Moscow has denied intentionally targeting civilians.

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