According to a report published by Yale University last month, over 6,000 Ukrainian children between the ages of 4 months and 17 years have been taken to 43 camps located in Russia-annexed Crimea and across mainland Russia.
However, Daria Herasymchuk, Ukraine’s commissioner for children’s rights, believes that a few hundred thousand children have been ripped away from their families as part of the Kremlin’s “Russification campaign.”
Tatiana Vlaiko’s 11-year-old daughter, Lilya, and Lyudmila Motychak’s 15-year-old daughter, Anastasia, were also taken to these camps.
Anastasia and Lilya were among the lucky children who have returned home, thanks to the help of Save Ukraine, an organization run by Ukraine’s former children’s ombudsman, Mykola Kuleba.
Only 307 children have been retrieved so far, according to Ukraine’s commissioner for children’s rights.
The Russians have been open about re-homing Ukrainian children, who have been portrayed as having been abandoned by their families.
Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian presidential commissioner for children’s rights, has been quoted as saying that 350 children have been adopted so far by Russian families, with a further 1,000 awaiting adoption.
During a press conference on the first anniversary of the war last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the difficulty of tracking down kidnapped children deep within Russia and returning them home.
The president said that the only possible recourse is to exert pressure on Putin’s regime with the help of influential international organizations.