(Reuters) – Russia has brought some 700,000 children from the conflict zones in Ukraine into Russian territory, Grigory Karasin, head of the international committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said late on Sunday.
“In recent years, 700,000 children have found refuge with us, fleeing the bombing and shelling from the conflict areas in Ukraine,” Karasin wrote on his Telegram messaging channel.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion on its western neighbour Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow says its progranme of bring children from Ukraine into Russian territory is to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.
However, Ukraine says many children have been illegally deported and the United States says thousands of children have been forcibly removed from their homes.
Most of the movement of people and children occurred in the first few months of the war and before Ukraine started its major counter offensive to regain occupied territories in the east and south in late August.
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In July 2022, the United States estimated that Russia “forcibly deported” 260,000 children, while Ukraine’s Ministry of Integration of Occupied Territories, says 19,492 Ukrainian children are currently considered illegally deported.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Michael Perry)
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