Russia Is Deporting ‘Thousands’ of Children From Ukraine

Russia Is Deporting ‘Thousands’ of Children From Ukraine

Children as young as fourteen are being put through an aggressive filtration process and forced to wait for transfer in inhumane conditions.


Thousands of Ukrainian children and civilians are being deported from their homes and in some cases detained by Russian forces as part of a “filtration” program being scrutinized by the U.S. State Department, Ukrainian officials, and U.S. universities and humanitarian organizations.  

“The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and constitutes a war crime,” a July statement from the State Department revealed. 


Referring to the ongoing process as a “large scale operation of screening and extrajudicial detention,” a report published last week by the Yale School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Lab called “Mapping Russia’s Detention Operations in Donetsk” offered further details of the Russian filtration program.

The report noted children as young as fourteen are being put through an aggressive filtration process and forced to wait for transfer in inhumane conditions. The Yale report also said that there is evidence of children being taken from their parents and put up for adoption in Russia. In some cases, children of Ukrainian soldiers are targeted specifically. 

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine reported preliminary figures stating that as many as 377 children have been killed in Ukraine and another 733 injured. Given the scope of Russian bombing in civilian areas, these numbers may indeed be much higher. 

The Yale report is clear that the actual number of Ukrainian civilians caught in the filtration system cannot be reliably determined. However, the report cited disturbing figures from the Ukrainian Ombudswoman for Human Rights that as many as 276,000 children have “reached Russia from Ukraine” through this process.  

The Yale report identified twenty-one distinct locations in and around the Donetsk Oblast containing one or more filtration locations, stating that further ground verifications were necessary to “cross-corroborate” the findings. However, the text of the report indicated a high level of credibility regarding these initial findings by publishing a list of more than twenty detention or filtration locations that have been identified by at least “five” independent open sources. The locations listed include police stations, prisons, and schools. Some of the evidence of these sites, the report states, comes from imagery showing structures such as “tents and buses.” 

At least four of the filtration sites cited in the report use schools for detention and interrogation. The top twenty “filtration cites,” which also use schools for filtration, are Chelyuskinska, Bezimenne, Nikolske, and multiple schools in Novoazovsk.

Several items in the report are particularly disturbing, perhaps the worst of which is the forced abduction, detention, or deportation of hundreds of thousands of children. The Yale report also identified a wide range of filtration activities including civilians being held for extended periods of time in inhumane conditions, interrogated, and even subjected to “secondary” interrogation involving physical violence and intimidation. Other elements of the Russian filtration process include the indefinite forcible detention of civilians and forced “deportation” to Russia of Ukrainian civilians. 

A statement released by the State Department following the publication of the Yale filtration report pledged additional funding to support the documentation of Russian atrocities, 

“The United States recognizes the need for the documentation, verification, and dissemination of information regarding the actions of the Russian Government. As such, the U.S. Department of State will fund the Conflict Observatory with an additional $9 million through the European Democratic Resilience Initiative,” the statement said

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.