US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of forcibly deporting up to 1.6 million Ukrainians to Russia, saying Moscow is conducting a deliberate criminal operation to depopulate parts of Ukraine.
In a statement on July 13, a day before the Ukraine Accountability Conference being held in The Hague on alleged crimes in Ukraine, Blinken said Moscow was conducting a “filtration” operation to move Ukrainians from occupied areas in the east and south. of the state and sending them deep into Russia.
“This illegal transfer and expulsion of protected persons is a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians and is a war crime,” said Blinken.
He said estimates from sources, including the Russian government, suggest that between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens have been sent to Russia, including to areas in the Far East.
This number also includes close to 260,000 children, some of whom were intentionally separated from their parents and put up for adoption in Russia, Blinken said.
He said the “filtration” program appears to have been planned in advance and is consistent with similar operations Russia has undertaken in other wars, including in Chechnya.
“President Vladimir Putin’s ‘filtering’ operations are to separate families, confiscate Ukrainian passports and issue Russian passports in an attempt to change demographics in parts of Ukraine,” he said.
Blinken said it is necessary to hold Russia accountable for these actions.
“That’s why we are supporting the Ukrainians and the efforts of international authorities to collect, document and preserve the data of the atrocities,” said Secretary Blinken./REL
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