It has become clear that the real goal of Russia’s war is not so-called “demilitarization”, the threat of NATO, etc., but the desire to destroy Ukrainian identity in general and Russification of the child population, which could be manipulated in the interests of Russia.

September 12, 2022 – Alina Rohach –

Photo: Da Antipina/Shutterstock

From the start, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was accompanied by the well-known Russian narratives of “denazification” and “demilitarization.” However, in reality, in the war against Ukraine, Russia has completely different and larger goals.

“We are all well aware of what the Russian goals really are. For more than a year, she has been threatening to start a war if Ukraine joins NATO. But Ukraine is not in NATO, and Russia’s full-scale war against our country has been going on for the seventh month – after eight years of war in Donbass. So why did everyone believe for decades that it was NATO that could supposedly goad Russia into doing something with its actions? underlined Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.

To understand Russia’s real goals, we need to check the statistical data. In total, the Russian military carried out more than 22,000 strikes on civilian targets and about 300 on military targets. In this way, the banal destruction of civilian infrastructure and terror against the population actually take place.

Unfortunately, the children of Ukraine are the ones who suffer the most. Children are forced to live in shelters for months, leave their homes, some lose their parents, are seriously injured, face violence and cruelty from the Russian military, or lose their lives. As of September 7, as a result of the actions of the Russian army, 1,125 children have been injured, of whom 383 have been killed, and more than 742 have more or less serious injuries.

According to data from Ukraine, Russia has deported more than 200,000 children, almost 6% of Ukraine’s child population, and according to Russian statements, this number reaches 350,000. Currently, 7,297 deported children have been identified, 53 children have already been sent home and 230 children are considered missing in Ukraine.

“The abduction of at least 230,000 Ukrainian children among the 1.4 million Ukrainians forcibly deported to Russia is a crime aimed at destroying the Ukrainian nation by depriving its younger generations, which is a modern manifestation of colonialism “, said Serhii Dvornyk, the Permanent Representative. of Ukraine to the United Nations.

The statistics are actually impressive. This is called Russian “demilitarization”.

Russia first orphans Ukrainian children by killing their families, separates the families during deportations, deprives them of their basic rights, and then places them in families with foreigners in a foreign country.

Interestingly, the Russian Federation is preparing changes to the legislation that will allow the adoption of Ukrainian children in a simplified procedure. At the end of May, Russia simplified the procedure for acquiring citizenship for children under occupation, which creates an opportunity for their adoption by Russians. According to Russian authorities, Ukrainian children already received their first passport from the Russian Federation in July.

“By his decree, Vladimir Putin has in fact legalized the abduction of children from the territory of Ukraine,” the statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Thus, in order to encourage the Russians to adopt children illegally taken out of Ukraine, the State offers them a “single payment of maternity capital and state aid”. Russia promises to pay its citizens 20,000 rubles each year for each child adopted from Ukraine and more than 150,000 for a disabled child, a child over the age of seven; or siblings.

According to information published on the website of the Department of Family and Children of the Krasnodar Territory, more than 1,000 Ukrainian children illegally taken to Mariupol captured by the occupiers were available for adoption in the Krasnodar Territory alone. It is reported that the children will now live in Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo and the Altai region. In addition, more than 300 Ukrainian children are currently awaiting adoption. In addition, according to the data, there are currently 540 orphans from the Donetsk region in one of the camps in the Rostov region, among them children from Mariupol and Volnovakha, cities completely wiped out by Russia.

Illegal adoption is not a new practice in Russia. In 2014, the “Train of Hope” project was set up. Trains with adults ready to become “adopters” traveled to different regions of the Russian Federation and the occupied Ukrainian territories. This train, in particular, went to the territory of annexed Crimea.

Children who have not yet formed a worldview become an easy target for manipulation and are “re-educated” and used for propaganda purposes. As these children do not have freedom of choice, their situation becomes a real tragedy. It should be noted that one of the signs of genocide is the forced transfer of children from one human group to another. This is underlined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. By massively deporting children, Russia is trying to destroy Ukrainian identity, violating all norms of international law.

Russia’s strategy in this regard can be considered in the context of three stages. The first is the taking of territory; the second is the complete transition of universities, colleges, kindergartens and other social welfare institutions to the Russian governmental system; and the third is the transfer of legal jurisdiction.

Education is one of the most powerful components of Russian propaganda, along with religion and the media. Children are taught from an early age to blindly support the cult of the president and to believe without a doubt that their country is superior to all others. In this way, kindergartens, schools, universities and informal youth associations complement the extensive propaganda system of the Russian Federation.

For years, Russia has taught a distorted world history in school, educating an “ideologically correct” youth who will continue the course of their country’s development. The strengthening of propaganda in educational institutions also occurred with the onset of full-scale war in Ukraine.

The Russians are trying to completely Russify education in the occupied cities, introducing their own standards, destroying Ukrainian books, cultural monuments, etc. However, there is nothing surprising in this, as noted by the ideological inspiration of Russian propagandists and Hitler’s closest associate, Joseph Goebbels. : “Youth cannot be given to anyone.”

For example, the general secondary education program of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic stipulates that education should achieve the goal of “raising awareness among schoolchildren about a sense of involvement in the fate of Russia and the DPR, the will to serve the fatherland and its defense.” In this context, the Russian language is defined as “the basis of civic identity and the main factor of national self-determination”. It is also necessary “to educate students in the spirit of patriotism, respect for the multinational Russian state.” Accordingly, using such an arsenal of imperial ideological stamps, the Russians mainly take the minds of children in the occupied territories.

To date, more than 885 schools are under occupation in the south alone. As part of the “adaptation” to Russian curricula, only three subjects are taught in schools in the occupied territories: Russian language and literature, Russian history and mathematics.

Kremlin curator for Donbass Serhiy Kiriyenko said that in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, schoolchildren will study under military escort. He noted that Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for providing armed security in schools in the so-called “people’s republics”.

Moreover, the Russians defined the school as an object of the regime. Parents are almost never allowed in, all gadgets and phones are taken away from children and returned at the end of class. This shows that they also want to use children as human shields, and certainly not provide them with knowledge.

In captured Mariupol, collaborators force parents to send their children to Russian schools. In case of refusal, the invaders threaten first to send a warning, then a fine of 40,000 rubles, and then to deprive the parents of their parental rights.

The occupiers brought about 500 Russian teachers to Melitopol to organize the educational process there and promised them housing and a good salary. The invaders have also organized “organizational and methodical” meetings of teachers who are coerced into cooperating with the educational process. Those who disagree are threatened with “negative” consequences – from “filtration camps” to the restriction of “humanitarian” aid.

It becomes clear that the real goal of Russia’s war is not the so-called “demilitarization”, the threat of NATO, etc., but the desire to destroy Ukrainian identity in general and the Russification of the child population, which could be manipulated in the interests of Russia.

It can be noted that Russia’s war against Ukraine has turned the lives of millions of children upside down, leaving them deeply traumatized for life. The war has prompted one of the fastest large-scale movements of children since World War II, marking a worrying milestone whose disastrous consequences could be felt for at least several generations to come.

This text was originally published by the Transatlantic Dialogue Center. It is republished here with permission from the authors.

Alina Rohach is a junior analyst at the Center for Transatlantic Dialogue in Kyiv.