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Children as a Vehicle of Genocide

Introduction

 

The epitome of the 21st century’s Russian war against Ukraine manifested itself in Vladimir Putin’s speech on the morning of 24 February 2022.[1] In his address, the Russian President announced a series of wars against the collective West and the sovereign state of Ukraine. The massive Russian military attack on Ukrainian land, air, and sea was presented to the Russian public as ‘a special military operation’. According to President Putin, ‘The purpose of this operation was to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation’. Putin’s bold statement was uttered notwithstanding the facts that, during those eight years, Russia had annexed Crimea and effectively occupied Donbass, two Eastern regions of Ukraine.[2] The Russian government machine failed, however, to gain control over the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people beyond the occupation borders.[3]

 

Arguably, the full-scale Russian invasion, accompanied by an overwhelming scale of atrocious crimes against the Ukrainian nation, creates a ‘context of a manifest pattern of similar conduct directed against’ the Ukrainian nation to destroy it as such, in whole or in part, within the meaning of the crime of genocide.[4] The thesis of this essay is that such a manifest pattern includes a crime that could itself affect such destruction ie the forcible transfer of children of the group to another group (from Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory).

 

It is uncontested that since 2014, and later, after February 2023 on a larger scale, a substantial number of Ukrainian children have been transferred, under the control of the Russian authorities, from their homes or places of residence to the territory of the Russian Federation or to the Ukrainian regions under Russian occupation.[5] Based on an analysis of Russian law and the reports of public officials in the field of education and children’s rights, the necessary conclusion is that all such acts were carried out by the state’s centralized system of governance under the control and leadership of President Putin. It is posited that such actions reflect the intent to destroy the nation of Ukraine and eliminate its identity as a separate entity from Russia.

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