Speaking to ABC News this week, officials from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office confirmed that more than 100 new criminal cases have been opened relating to the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia and Russian-occupied territories.
The news follows the issuing of an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court over the widescale kidnapping of Ukrainian children since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Johann Soufi, a senior international prosecutor from Ukraine, said this week that evidence collected by investigators in Ukraine will also be used as part of the case against the Russian president and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. Soufi confirmed that while the ICC has already collected public documents to support the case against Lvova-Belova and Putin, additional evidence is expected to be used as the case progresses. This may include testimonies from parents of children who were taken from Ukraine and put under the care of foster families and care homes in Russia.
“It’s possible that the arrest warrant for Putin would not have been issued without this type of direct evidence,” Soufi told ABC. “First, the ICC first needs to establish the crimes. The decree that Putin signed and the fact he and Lvova-Belova were public about the adoptions just helped to establish their liability for the crimes.”
In January, Ukraine’s chief presidential advisor for children’s rights revealed that almost 14,000 abducted children had been identified by international investigators at that time. Dara Herasymchuk said that Russian soldiers had also killed 456 children and injured almost 900 since the war began.
Ukraine Wants Help Bringing Children Home
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters this week that he had asked Pope Francis during a discussion at the Vatican on Thursday for help bringing Ukrainian children home from Russia.
“I asked His Holiness to help us return home Ukrainians, Ukrainian children who are detained, arrested, and criminally deported to Russia,” Shmyhal said.
The Ukrainian prime minister also said that he had invited the Pope to visit Ukraine.
Throughout the conflict, Pope Francis has frequently called for a ceasefire. Francis has also expressed his willingness to visit both Russia and Ukraine in the hopes of helping negotiate peace.
The Vatican confirmed that the discussions on Thursday took place, but did not offer many details about the topics of conversation. In a brief statement about the visit, the Vatican confirmed that Prime Minister Shmyhal also met with the Holy See’s foreign minister and secretary of state.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.