“Humanitarian act”, translated from Russian, means forced displacement of Ukrainian children for the purpose of assimilation and identity and political re-education. “Humanitarian Act”, translated from Russian, means genocidal policy.

Evgueniia’s parents, having lived under Russian occupation in Kherson from March to November 2022, were forced to transfer their daughter to a school under the control of the occupiers so that she could follow the Russian school curriculum. If they refused, the girl risked being sent to a re-education camp. If Evgueniia had been an orphan, this is what would have happened. The story of my 14-year-old cousin is just one example of Russia’s systematic kidnapping schemes against Ukrainian children.

On March 15, 2023, a report by the UN Commission on Human Rights confirmed these facts: the transfer and deportation of children to occupied Ukrainian territories or to Russian territory violates international law and constitutes a war crime.

The accused ? Vladimir Putin, Russian President, and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights – both now under arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court. This was seized as early as December 2022 to document these schemes aimed at “Russifying”, “denazifying” and “de-Ukrainizing” Ukrainian minors, whose ages range from 4 months to 17 years old.

How do war criminals operate? Three narratives are promoted by Russia in order to systematically deport Ukrainian children: the “evacuation” of orphanages located in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian forces, the transfer of children to “holiday camps”, the relocation to supposed “medical purposes”.

What is particularly striking is that, unlike other abuses committed by the Russians in Ukraine, the programs for the removal of children are neither denied nor concealed, on the contrary. In May 2022, Putin passed a presidential decree accelerating the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for children deported from Ukraine. Lvova-Belova boasted on February 16 that she “[knows] now what it is to be a mother of a child from Donbass”.

Beyond their displacement, the goal is bigger: to re-educate these Ukrainian children, forcing their assimilation into Russian society. In the camps, there is systematic pro-Russian education, which includes military activities, school curriculum, visits to Russian memorial sites, constant patriotic discourse. All levels of government are involved in these processes similar to those carried out by the Nazis in Poland during the Second World War.

With extermination objectives so clear, the question of negotiation no longer arises. How can one negotiate with an aggressor country? How do you compromise with a war criminal?

Although Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the message of the arrest warrant is strong. Ukraine’s Attorney General Andriy Kostin says The Hague’s decision will certainly impact the ambitions of some to discuss: “Leaders will think twice before shaking hands with him or sitting down with Putin in the negotiation table. »