Russia and Ukraine Exchange Nearly 50 Displaced Children in Qatari-Brokered Deal

Russia and Ukraine exchange nearly 50 displaced children, brokered by Qatar, amid accusations of forced deportations and identity erasure. The fate of Ukrainian children taken to Russia remains a contentious issue in the ongoing conflict.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Russia and Ukraine Exchange Nearly 50 Displaced Children in Qatari-Brokered Deal

Russia and Ukraine Exchange Nearly 50 Displaced Children in Qatari-Brokered Deal

Moscow and Kyiv have exchanged nearly 50 children displaced by the war, according to Russia's children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova. The deal, brokered by Qatar, will see 29 children go to Ukraine and 19 to Russia in the first face-to-face talks between the two sides on this sensitive issue.

However, a Ukrainian official, Dmytro Lubinets, later declined to confirm the agreement, stating that the two countries "don't have any direct communication on this case." Ukraine believes Russia has illegally taken more than 19,000 of its children since the 2022 invasion, of which fewer than 400 have been returned. Russia denies the charges, saying it has transferred children for their safety away from fighting zones.

The fate of Ukrainian children taken to Russia during the war has been highly sensitive, with some of the children's parents killed and others separated from their carers by the fast-moving front lines at the start of the invasion. Ukraine accuses Russia of trying to wipe out the Ukrainian identity of the children, who have been subjected to Russian patriotic education.

Why this matters: The exchange of displaced children between Russia and Ukraine marks a significant development in the ongoing conflict, highlighting the human toll of the war. The fate of these children has been a contentious issue, with accusations of forced deportations and attempts to erase Ukrainian identity.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 16 Ukrainian children previously "deported to Russia" had been reunited with their families in Qatar. The Qatari government has indicated a potential larger role in discussions between Moscow and Kyiv in the future, having helped bring back dozens of Ukrainian children taken to Russia and occupied territories during the two-year war.

The exchange of displaced children comes amid other developments in the conflict, including Ukraine's use of long-range Atacms missiles for the first time to strike Russian targets in Crimea and occupied areas. Russia has launched missile attacks in Odesa and Kharkiv, damaging infrastructure and injuring civilians.

The deal to exchange nearly 50 displaced children between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Qatar, marks a rare instance of direct talks between the two sides on this highly sensitive issue. While Ukraine has accused Russia of illegally taking thousands of its children, Russia maintains it has transferred them for their safety. The reunification of some of these children with their families in Qatar offers a glimmer of hope amid the ongoing conflict, which continues to take a heavy toll on civilians caught in the crossfire.

Key Takeaways

  • Russia and Ukraine exchanged nearly 50 displaced children, brokered by Qatar.
  • Ukraine accuses Russia of illegally taking 19,000 children, with fewer than 400 returned.
  • Russia denies charges, claiming it transferred children for their safety from war zones.
  • Ukraine says Russia aims to erase Ukrainian identity of the displaced children.
  • The exchange marks a rare instance of direct talks on this sensitive issue.