(Moscow) The Russian commissioner for children, Maria Lvova-Belova, targeted by an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, said on Tuesday that she was ready to send deported children back to Ukraine, if their families so requested. .
Ukrainian authorities accuse Russia of having “abducted” more than 16,000 children from Ukraine since the offensive began a year ago.
Moscow, for its part, claims to have “saved” these children from the fighting and to have put in place procedures to reunite them with their families.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ms. Lvova-Belova assured that she had not been contacted by “any representative of the Ukrainian authorities” about the children deported since the start of the conflict and invited the parents to write her an email.
“Write to me […] to find your child,” she said.
According to a report from his office released on Tuesday, 16 children from nine families have been reunited with their relatives living in Ukraine or elsewhere since March 29.
The Russian commissioner for children, however, once again refused on Tuesday to publish the full list of names of Ukrainian children deported to Russia.
According to the report, 380 Ukrainian orphans have been placed in foster care in Russia, including 22 minors found abandoned in Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine devastated by a siege by the Russian army last year.
Adopted children received Russian citizenship while retaining their original citizenship.
According to Maria Lvova-Belova, a teenager taken to Russia from Mariupol was arrested at the Belarusian border while trying to return to Ukraine.
However, she said he was “drawn into Ukrainian territory through manipulation and threats” by several people she called “agents”.
The ICC in March issued a historic arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, finding them responsible for the “war crime of illegal deportation” of Ukrainian minors.
The United States on Tuesday announced a further $2.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including Patriot air defense missiles and artillery munitions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately expressed his appreciation to the United States, thanking them for their “unwavering support”. Ukraine “among others expecting ammunition, air defense missiles and artillery shells”, he added on Twitter.
Of the new total amount contributed, the United States will immediately deliver $500 million of weapons from its stocks, the remaining $2.1 billion representing orders for the defense industry, the Pentagon said in a statement.
In addition to the air defense interceptor missiles for the Patriots, the Ukrainian forces will receive, among other things, additional ammunition for the US-made Himars high-precision mobile rocket launcher systems, artillery missiles as well as various ammunition and spare parts, said said the US Department of Defense.
Ukraine will also quickly receive anti-tank missiles for the Bradley light armor that Washington has pledged to supply to Kyiv, as well as 120mm shells which, according to a senior Pentagon official, “will be used by the first armored battalions of the Ukraine as well as the Abrams tanks that the United States has promised”.
“This is an important moment for the war. Fighting continues in the east, but there has been no significant movement recently in terms of territorial control,” added the senior official, who requested anonymity.
“Our priority is to help the Ukrainians change the dynamics on the ground. We want to help Ukraine move forward and hold their positions in a counter-offensive that we anticipate,” she said.
The Abrams tanks are expected to arrive by autumn in Ukraine, where British Challenger tanks and German Leopards have already arrived.
In addition to various equipment and armaments, Ukraine’s allies provide training to Ukrainian forces. The Pentagon recently reported that more than 7,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been trained by the United States since February 2022, including 65 on Patriot systems.
The Pentagon official clarified on Tuesday that training on the Abrams tanks had not started. “But I expect that to happen relatively quickly.”
This new tranche brings total US military assistance to Ukraine to $35.1 billion since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24, 2022.