The minors were evacuated from the combat zone, Vladimir Putin said

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended the policy of moving Ukrainian children from the areas hit by the fighting to Russia. He rejected the accusations that the practice was illegal. 

“We were moving them out of the conflict zone, saving their lives – this is what’s been happening,” Putin said on Saturday during a meeting with a group of African leaders in St. Petersburg. He added that “nobody intended to separate the children from their families.”

“We evacuated entire orphanages, and did so absolutely legally because the heads of these orphanages were their [legal] representatives,” Putin said. 

“We were never against the children reuniting with their families, if, of course, their relatives were showing up. There were no obstacles, and, naturally, there will not be any. I can assure you about that.”

In March, the International Criminal Court (IOC) issued arrest warrants against Putin and Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on the charges of “unlawful deportation and transfer” of children from Ukraine. Russia is not a party to the IOC’s Rome Statute and, therefore, does not recognize the jurisdiction of The Hague-based court.  

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Lvova-Belova said in April that many children were placed in Russian summer camps and resorts at the request of their families. “They were moved voluntarily because their parents asked for a safe space where [the children] could continue their education,” the official said. She added that, despite some delays, the minors were regularly reunited with their relatives when they came to pick them up. 

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