Deported Ukrainian children sent for “survival training” in Belarus

Thirty-five children from the occupied city of Antratsyt in eastern Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, were sent to Mogilev in eastern Belarus for an “unforgettable excursion” where they were allegedly taught “how to act in extreme situations” during a training exercise with Belarusian armed forces, citing a report by state TV channel Belarus 4 Mogilev on Thursday, the 11th of January, reports Politico.
The Belarusian state TV footage showed Ukrainian children with Russian flags sewn on their sleeves taking part in “emergency survival drills” organised by the Belarusian army. During the coverage, screams were heard in the smoke-filled room, while the programme stated that the children were learning how to escape from a fire by holding onto the wall.
According to Yevgeny Sokolov, an inspector at the Mogilev military training centre of the Ministry of Emergency Situations,

the exercise was conducted in a playful format suitable for children.

As reported, since Russia fully invaded Ukraine in February 2022, thousands of Ukrainian children have been deported from Russian-occupied regions to Russia and Belarus.
Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children, has stated that by July 2023 Russia had “received” some 700 000 Ukrainian children.
Citing a Yale University study, Politico writes that between September 2022 and May 2023, more than 2 400 Ukrainian children aged 6-17 were deported from occupied Ukrainian regions such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to Belarus.
Politico also reports that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met with a group of deported Ukrainian children last month,

promising to “accept these children, take them to our homes, keep them warm and make their childhood happier”.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of overseeing the “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children.
Then, in April, the European Council described the “illegal deportation” and “Russification” of Ukrainian children as genocide, writes Politico.
Also read: Putin visits Mariupol; Kremlin calls the accusations of ICC «unacceptable»
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