Russian official accused of war crimes defends before NATO the transfers of Ukrainian children

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Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian head of the portfolio for children’s rights, denied at the UN that Russia carried out the forced transfer of thousands of minors from Ukraine to her country.

The Russian official charged, along with President Vladimir Putin, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children said Wednesday that Moscow is “totally open” to cooperation in the interests of minors.

“Unfortunately, there is no official communication through official channels with Ukraine, although we are ready to work with the relevant bodies,” Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, told a Russian-hosted meeting at the United Nations.

“We have not received a single request from him, just completely baseless accusations in the media and on social media,” he said.

Lvova-Belova spoke via video because international travel would expose her to possible arrest and extradition to the Hague-based court, which issued arrest warrants for her and Putin on March 17.

The ICC said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the two “bear criminal responsibility for the illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” hundreds of whom were adopted in Russia.

More than 16,000 deported, Ukraine says

Ukraine claims that more than 16,000 children have been forcibly taken to Russia since its invasion 13 months ago. The Russian official said today that only about 2,000 children arrived in Russia, either as orphans with guardians or alone, and many have been reunited with relatives.

“No amount of disinformation spread by the Russian Federation can deny the truth of the matter, nor shield people from responsibility for these crimes,” Ukraine said in a statement backed by 49 other nations in response to Wednesday’s informal council meeting. UN Security.

Children transferred for safety, says Russia

Lvova-Belova did not address the ICC charges during her remarks but said: “This is a campaign to discredit our country.” She further insisted on presenting her transfer of Ukrainian children during the war as a form of protection.

Lvova-Belova offered two videos during her remarks, presumably of Ukrainian children. One was a short video in Russian with subtitles saying, “we rescued orphaned children from shelled areas” in the east of the country and showed children being hugged and pampered by caregivers.

A second 3-minute video began with footage of children in a war zone and then showed children living in Russia with foster families enjoying time on a swing, playing with a rabbit, and building Legos. “It’s a good life,” says a teenager.

“I want to emphasize that, unlike the Ukrainian side, we do not use children for propaganda,” Lvova-Belova said at the end of the second video. Voice of America has not been able to verify its authenticity independently.

Protest of several representatives

Junior diplomats represented the other 14 council members during the meeting, which took place in a UN conference room. When Lvova-Belova began making remarks about her, representatives from Albania, the UK, Malta, and the US walked out.

“If you want to account for your actions, you can do so in The Hague,” a UK spokesman said before the meeting.

The UK and the US blocked the broadcast of the meeting on the UN website, although it could still be viewed on internal video feeds and the Russian mission’s website.

On Wednesday, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that the US objected to Lvova-Belova’s briefing because she has been accused of taking part in war crimes committed by Russian forces.

“And that is why we have joined the UK in blocking the use of UN WebTV to allow them to have an international podium to spread disinformation and try to defend their horrific actions taking place in Ukraine,” the US diplomat stated.