Thousand Ukrainian Children Given 'New Families' in Russia: ISW

Russia forcibly resettled more than 1,000 Ukrainian children from the occupied Mariupol region to be adopted by Russian families—a move that amounts to genocide, a U.S. think tank said Wednesday.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) cited a now-deleted Russian government post that showed that Russia is bringing Ukrainian children to the country and paying Russian families to adopt them.

An archived version of the Russian federal subject (region) Krasnodar Krai's Family and Childhood Administration post details a program under which Russian authorities transferred over 1,000 children from Mariupol to Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo and Altay Krai.

The regional government stated in its post that over 300 children are still waiting to "meet their new families" and that citizens who decide to adopt these children will be given a one-time payment by the state under federal law.

A young girl in Lviv, Ukraine
Above, a young girl cries as her father says goodbye at the railway station in Lviv, Ukraine on March 22, 2022. Lviv has served as a stopover and shelter for the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, either to the safety of nearby countries or the relative security of western Ukraine. Alexey Furman/Getty Images

"More than 300 babies are temporarily kept in specialized institutions of the Krasnodar Territory and are looking forward to meeting their new families," the post said.

According to the post, the "allowance" is assigned to each adopted child. It notes that from February this year—the month Russia's war against Ukraine began— the lump sum allowance for each adopted child is 20,472.77 rubles ($342).

The one-time payment offered by the state is significantly higher when adopting a disabled child, a child over 7 years old, or adopting brothers or sisters simultaneously, at 156,428.66 rubles ($2,614.77).

At the same time, the ISW said that Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that 30 Ukrainian children from Khartsyzk, Ilovaysk and Zuhres in occupied Donetsk Oblast were transferred by Russian officials to Nizhny Novgorod under the guise of having them participate in youth educational-training programs.

The forcible transfer of children from one group to another "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the ISW noted.

Peter Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol's mayor, said on Telegram in April that children were being forcibly relocated by Russian officials to Vladivostok in Russia's far east.

He said at the time that 308 Ukrainian citizens, including 90 children were taken to Russia and that the children from hard-hit Mariupol would be forced to learn Russian.

Later, a local Russian news outlet reported that the individuals had arrived in Vladivostok on Friday.

According to the "Children of War" website created by Daria Herasymchuk, the representative of the President of Ukraine for children's rights and child rehabilitation, 7,013 children have been "deported" to Russia as of August 24. Russian officials previously maintained that such transfers are voluntary evacuations.

Newsweek reached out to Russia's foreign ministry for comment.