Moscow has been waging a genocidal war against Ukraine and its people for over 21 months. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies Ukraine has a right to exist, claiming it’s part of Russia. The Kremlin has kidnapped tens of thousands of children and deported them to Russia, placing many with Russian families in an effort to destroy any connection with their homeland.
Side by side with its Russification drive, Moscow continues its heavy bombardment of urban centers in Ukraine. An aerial assault with Iranian-made drones overnight Nov. 25, the largest since the war began, targeted Kyiv and other cities. The airstrikes have failed to crush Ukrainians’ determination to fight to defend the country’s independence.
Air defense teams shot down or disabled 74 of the 75 drones, preventing mass casualties. But in Kyiv dozens of residences and a kindergarten were damaged or destroyed by falling debris. At least five people were injured, including an 11-year-old child.
Since the start of the war there have been more than 19,000 documented cases of Russian authorities deporting Ukrainian children from occupied territories to the Russian Federation. Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, boasts the figure is actually over 700,000! Kyiv authorities give a lower figure of 300,000, mainly family members of some 3 million Ukrainians forcibly taken to Russia from occupied parts of Ukraine.
With the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, under the leadership of V.I. Lenin, working people took power and granted nations under the Russian czars’ domination the right to self-determination. For a few years the use of the Ukrainian language grew and knowledge of Ukrainian history, art and culture flourished. These gains were set back in a counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin. All the oppressed nationalities were placed under Moscow’s direct command.
Today the Kremlin claims the children it seizes are being “evacuated” for their own safety.
A close political ally of Putin “adopted” a 2-year-old girl, taken from a Kherson children’s home. Sergey Mironov, head of the “A Just Russia” political party, and his wife, Inna Varlamova, had Margarita Propenko abducted by Russian troops. They imposed a Russian name on her, Marina Mironova. She was one of 48 orphans from the home that have gone missing.
Ukrainian youth resist Russification
Elsewhere, Vitaliy Vertash, a 16 year old from Moscow-occupied Beryslav, was part of a group sent to a youth summer camp in Crimea, under the guise of getting a vacation and safe education.
After three weeks his mother, Inna, asked the camp director when he was coming back, but she wasn’t given an answer. “He was actually kidnapped,” she told ABC News. “I got him back,” but it took six months.
During classes, Vitaliy said the youth were told Ukraine is full of “terrorists who kill people.”
“They beat us with rods for saying, ‘Glory to Ukraine!’” The kids were cursed as “khokhols,” a derogatory term for Ukrainians. “It was like a prison.
“When they played the Russian national anthem, we played the Ukrainian national anthem through our headphones,” he said.
Young children are most vulnerable to Moscow’s indoctrination, especially when they’re told they’ve been abandoned by their parents.
“They teach them to hate their parents, and then [to hate] our country, and then to love Russia,” said Miroslava Kharchenko, a lawyer for Save Ukraine, which facilitates the return of the children to Ukraine.
“First, they came to our land, killed [the children’s] parents, bombed homes, forced people to starve and to lose everything,” Oksana Filipishina, of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, told Russian news outlet Meduza. “And now they’re ‘liberators.’”
“In the cases of stolen Ukrainian kids or kids kidnapped by Hamas, we’re talking about the literal future of these countries,” Evgenia Kara-Murza told Meduza Nov. 23. She was referring to Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom against Jews in Israel, which included kidnapping 240 people, many of them children or teenagers.
Her husband, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is one of thousands of political prisoners. Serving a sentence of 25 years for his opposition to Putin’s war, he has recently been sent to a maximum-security jail in the Siberian city of Omsk and held in isolation.
“Everything should be done to weaken the regime, both from inside and outside of the country,” Evgenia Kara-Murza said, “by supporting Ukraine’s war effort and encouraging its victory.”
Just as “the war in Afghanistan weakened the Soviet regime in the 1980s,” conditions are being created that will “weaken the regime and when cracks appear, I’m sure we’ll see people in the streets.”