Fact Check: Reports Of Abducted Ukrainian Children Are NOT Propaganda Fabricated By West Against Russia

Fact Check

  • de: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: Reports Of Abducted Ukrainian Children Are NOT Propaganda Fabricated By West Against Russia No Evidence

Are the reports of Ukrainian children being abducted by the Russian military in occupied war zones and forcibly transferred to Russia just propaganda manufactured by the West? No, that's not true: There are ample reports from international courts and organizations, as well as victim testimonies, that confirm Russia was forcibly displacing Ukrainian children from occupied territories.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by user @pichaku.picaku on March 18, 2024, under the title (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff) "The gift an MEP gave Ukraine." It opened:

All these reports about Ukrainian children being deported to Russia are pure propaganda. Russia has taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees, including, fortunately, hundreds of thousands of children who were and are being bombed by the Ukrainian army.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-03-29 at 13.51.13.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 11:53:15 2024 UTC)

The claim was made by Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marcel de Graaff on March 13, 2024, at a European Parliament session (archived here). De Graaff is known for his pro-Russian rhetoric, prompting several of his colleagues in the European Parliament to call for an investigation into his connections with Russia (archived here), as well as into allegations of racist comments (archived here).

His statements regarding the displacement of Ukrainian children and refugees are inaccurate. On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova (archived here). They were accused of orchestrating the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, constituting a war crime under international law.

Human Rights Watch has highlighted the "forced transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children" by Russia (archived here). Additionally, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) launched an investigation (archived here) into the matter, concluding that Russia was forcibly displacing Ukrainian children (archived here) from occupied territories. Furthermore, various media outlets have published testimonies (archived here) from Ukrainian children and teenagers who were reunited with their families in Ukraine.

The Kyiv government estimates that around 19,500 children (archived here) have been deported or forcibly removed from the country by the Russian army.

  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

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