Russia says to have 'evacuated' 700,000 Ukrainian children


Eastern Europe


Toys at a children's organisation in Russia. Photo Telegram, Maria Lvova-Belova

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia claims to have received over 700,000 Ukrainian children. And this number is not even half of the total of Ukrainians that have been moved to Russia.

Russia's presidential commissioner for children's rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, published a report on Sunday, Moscow Times writes. According to the study, 4.8 million Ukrainian citizens have been transferred to Russia since February 2022.

An "overwhelming majority" of the 700,000 children came together with their parents or relatives, Lvova-Belova claims. However, she did not mention any arguments to support her claim.

Foster homes

According to the report, 1,500 Ukrainian orphans have been evacuated to Russia from the annexed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Of them, 380 have been adopted by Russian parents, the report reads. It does not say anything about deported orphans from other annexed regions, except for 52 children who were temporarily moved to Crimea in November 2022, Moscow Times writes.

Ukraine says that approximately 19,500 children were forcibly transferred to Russia. Kyiv claims that many of these minors have been placed in orphanages or Russian foster homes. According to the National Children of War database, 15,500 children have been located in Russia, and 386 returned to Ukraine.

War crime

The Russian commissioner of children's rights, Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been placed under an arrest warrant for "illegally deporting" children from Ukraine. A UN investigation has determined that this is a war crime.

The Russian occupiers are said to have abducted children from Ukrainian schools, as reported by BBC. "It was horror. We begged the military not to take us away, wept", 14-year-old Dasha remembers. She is a Ukrainian pupil from the village of Novopetrovka.

Teacher Oksana Gorelko remembers how the Russians "just loaded the kids into the cars." "We all sobbed", she tells the BBC. "But what could we do? They were with machine guns."

Rehabilitation centre

Teacher Nataly Lutsik was taken along with her pupils. They were brought deep into the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine and placed in a rehabilitation centre before they were deported to Russia.

There they stayed in an ordinary Soviet-style children's institution, Lutsik tells the BBC. There were about 500 Ukrainian children there, she points out.


However, no one was allowed to talk about Ukraine or wear blue and yellow symbols. Nevertheless, Nataly often gathered her schoolchildren in her room to secretly listen to Ukrainian news.

The principal and her husband, who was deported along with his wife and the students, planned to escape from the premises. They scouted the fences to find weaknesses. They arranged documents and a bus that could take them away from the centre. "We prayed that everything would work out", Nataly says.

The flight was successful, and the children and their teachers arrived safely in Georgia. Now, Nataly just dreams of returning to Ukraine.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.