At least 6,000 Ukrainian children have been sent to indoctrination camps across Russia since the start of the war, according to a report published in the US by the Humanitarian Research Lab from Yale University.
The document details how the Russian government carries out a program of relocation, indoctrination and, in some cases, military training with thousands of minors from Ukrainian territories occupied by its army since the beginning of the war, almost a year ago.
The report also accuses Russia of accelerate adoption and fostering in Russia of Ukrainian children, a practice that could amount to war crimes and that requires the Russian authorities to “stop immediately.”
The research has been carried out by the Conflict Observatory of this university, which was launched last year with funding from the US Department of State.
Russia operates 43 of these fields throughout its territory, from the westernmost regions and closest to Ukraine. to Siberiaand also in territories seized from Ukraine, such as the Crimean peninsula.
“The main objective of these camps seems to be political indoctrination,” said Nathaniel Raymond, executive director of the Humanitarian Research Lab, who noted that the program “involves all levels of the Russian government.”
The report states that in at least 32 of the identified camps there are “systematic indoctrination efforts that expose Ukrainian children to Russian-centric education in the academic, cultural, patriotic and/or military spheres.”
“Mounting evidence about Russia’s actions makes it clear that the Kremlin seeks to deny and suppress the identity, history and culture of Ukraine.” The State Department reacted in a statement. “The devastating impacts of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukrainian children will be felt for generations.”
In at least two of the camps – one in Crimea, one in Chechnya – Ukrainian children have received military training. The report, however, has no evidence that they were sent to the front or that this is the objective.
The document explains that there are many families who consented to sending their children to these camps – Russia has sometimes advertised them as free summer camps – and that the minors have returned home after the established period. But he also warns that many parents have been pressured to have their children go and that sometimes the return has been delayed for weeks or months. On occasions, families have been told that their children could not return because “there is war” and some children have been conditioned on their return to war situations. For example, one was told that he would only return if the Russians recapture Izium, a town in eastern Ukraine that the kyiv army took in its counteroffensive. The report warns that the return of minors has been suspended in at least four.
The document explains that there are many families who consented to sending their children to these camps.
The document ensures that Putin “is very aware of and encourages” the camp and adoption programs for Ukrainian children. Regarding the second, he put a person he trusted in front of him, Maria Lvova-Belovapresidential commissioner for children’s rights.
Lvova-Belova herself has acknowledged that there have already been 350 adoptions of Ukrainian minors in Russia and that there are another thousand in process.
The actions carried out with the adoption “could constitute war crimes” and that the retention of minors in the camps are “violations of the Convention on the Rights of Children.”
Russia, through its embassy in Washington, described the allegations as “absurd” and defended that the country accepts children who have to be evacuated “due to the atrocities of the Ukrainian armed forces.”