April 26, 2024

Was there an exchange of children between Ukraine and Russia: questions and answers

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, visited Qatar and held talks with Qatari representatives, including on the issues of deported Ukrainian children.

In response to the dissemination of distorted and manipulated information by representatives of the Russian Federation, which has unfortunately been amplified by various media channels, we have compiled responses to the most frequently asked questions regarding the visit.

Has there been an "exchange" of children, as Russia claimed?

No, Ukraine does not engage in the “exchange” of children, as we do not detain Russian children against their will. Instead, our efforts focus on facilitating the documentation and departure of Russian children from Ukrainian territory who have arrived voluntarily or at the will of their legal guardians prior to the commencement of the full-scale invasion.

Conversely, Ukraine is committed to returning all Ukrainian children who have been unlawfully deported or forcibly displaced by Russia. It is important to reiterate that such returns are not conducted in the manner of an "exchange."

How many children does Ukraine want to return?

The claim put forth by the Russian side alleging that Ukraine seeks to return only 29 children is inaccurate and false.

Ukraine's objective is to repatriate all children who have found themselves in Russia against their own free will. Such circumstances involve instances of deportation, forced displacement, or external coercion, such as the absence of secure humanitarian passages or the targeting of evacuation convoys containing civilians.

Ukraine is working to return hundreds and thousands of children whose information has been verified and whose whereabouts have been established. Our efforts in locating and gathering information about these children persist daily without interruption.

We stress that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Russian Federation has not provided any information about the locations and well-being of Ukrainian children, saying only that there are more than 700,000 such children. This is the number that was put forward by Russia during the reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Is Qatar holding talks with representatives of Russia?

Yes, as it is the only way to ensure the return of Ukrainian children home. However, the Ukrainian side is not present during these meetings. We do not have face-to-face talks with the Russians. There will be no photo of us sitting at the same table because such an event simply did not occur.

Does Ukraine use all the platforms to bring its people, particularly children, home?

Yes. Ukraine is using all available opportunities and constantly works on finding new ways and mechanisms to return our children home. Our efforts extend to broadening the spectrum of negotiators and mediators involved.

Qatar stands as a reliable partner for Ukraine, and our collaborative efforts have yielded tangible outcomes, with Ukrainian children successfully returning home and undergoing essential rehabilitation processes.

Why are there so few details about the negotiations?

Ukraine is dealing with a vicious enemy and negotiations, particularly on the issue of returning our citizens home, are not easy.

Thousands of Ukrainian children have been deported, with civilians held in illegal prisons and prisoners of war held in inadequate conditions. Ukraine aims to return all its citizens.

Therefore, we do not disclose more information than necessary so that our society and the world know that we are fighting for the return of each and every one of our people.

Why is the Russian side the first to communicate?

Ukraine's goal is to bring our citizens home. And if this requires silence, we will keep it.

The Russian side's goal is to whitewash its reputation. Therefore, it takes any opportunity to portray itself as the party conducting a civilized conversation on equal terms. However, this is not the case. Ukraine does not kidnap Russian children, distort history, or militarize Russian education. Ukraine does not expose Russian children to propaganda and does not deprive Russian children of their identity.

Finally, Ukraine is not destroying the future of Russian children. It is Russia itself that is destroying the future of Russian children by investing in war rather than social development.

We communicate the result, not the process. Therefore, we report on the results of the negotiations upon their completion, as the agreements can be terminated at any time and for any far-fetched reason.

Ukraine stands firmly on its goal to bring all deported and kidnapped Ukrainian children back home from Russia and puts its best efforts into fulfilling this goal every day.