Russia announced the “first face-to-face negotiations” with Ukraine, but this is not the case. They talked about the return of the children

Sofiia Telishevska

Russian Commissioner for Childrenʼs Rights Maria Lvova-Belova said that Moscow and Kyiv "held the first face-to-face negotiations" regarding the exchange of children. Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets denied this information.

"For the first time, we held face-to-face negotiations with the Ukrainian side. 29 children are to go to Ukraine, 19 — to Russia," France 24 quotes Belova as saying.

At the same time, she did not tell how and why the children ended up in the hands of the Russians.

The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets did not confirm the Russian sideʼs statement and noted that the return of Ukrainian children and negotiations are being mediated by Qatar and Qatari diplomats.

"There were no direct negotiations with the Russian delegation today," the Ukrainian ombudsman clarified.

Deportation of Ukrainian children

In the face of a full-scale invasion, Moscow is mass-deporting Ukrainian children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. They are taken to the occupied Crimea, Russia or Belarus allegedly for "rehabilitation or rest in camps."

On May 13, 2023, Volodymyr Zelensky at a briefing in Rome with the Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni stated that it is known with certainty about more than 19 300 children who were deported. Meanwhile, Russia is deliberately changing the legislation to make it impossible for Ukrainian children to return to the Motherland, and for this purpose, in particular, is using the forced change of their citizenship to Russian.

On December 7, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, announced that the deportation of 19 540 Ukrainian children by Russia had been officially confirmed.