First Lady’s Plea: Return Children Raised with Anti-Ukraine Sentiments

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Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, appealed to world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday for assistance in reuniting Ukrainian children who were forcibly taken to Russia. She expressed concern that these children were being indoctrinated and losing their Ukrainian identity.

According to Zelenska, over 19,000 Ukrainian children have been forcefully transferred or deported to Russia or occupied territories, but only 386 have been repatriated so far. In Russia, these children have been told that they are no longer Ukrainian but Russian.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his General Assembly address, labeled Russia’s actions as genocidal and expressed urgency in bringing the children back home. He noted that these children in Russia were being taught to harbor hatred towards Ukraine, with severed family ties.

Russia has denied these allegations, claiming that they have rescued Ukrainian children from the horrors of war. However, the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, on war crime charges related to the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children.

Zelenska also revealed that more than 500 children have lost their lives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while hundreds of others have been injured. Ukrainian authorities are investigating over 230 cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers against civilians, including 13 children.

Zelenska pleaded for the UN’s assistance in saving Ukrainian children, obtaining information on those taken to Russia, and establishing safe corridors to bring children out of occupied territories. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin called for the UN’s united efforts to facilitate the return of these Ukrainian children.

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