After negotiating with the UN and Qatar, an orphaned Ukrainian teenager who had been transported to Russia from war-torn areas has returned home before turning 18 in order to avoid being drafted into the Russian army.
Since Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February of last year, 20,000 Ukrainian children have been illegally transported to Russia, according to Ukraine, including Bohdan Yermokhin. The International Criminal Court (ICC) classifies the practice as a war crime.
In the early weeks of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops captured the teenager, who had been residing in Mariupol with his cousin after both of his parents passed away, and placed him in a foster home there.
Yemokhin attempted to travel alone through Belarus earlier this year, but was detained and sent home after being stopped at the border.
He begged Volodomyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, for assistance in avoiding being drafted into the Russian army before turning 18 years old.
According to the Reuters news agency, Yomokhin arrived in Ukraine on Sunday via Belarus.
After entering Ukraine, Yermokhin told reporters, “I thought I would be there, but not today.”
To put it simply, “This is a very pleasant gift.” The idea that Ukraine needs me is overwhelming, which is good.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy welcomed Yermokhin’s return.
There were numerous attempts to assist him. I’m glad everything turned out, he said, thanking the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and Qatari authorities for their mediation.
According to the ICC, Russia wants to “permanently” remove these kids from their own nation.
There are “reasonable grounds to believe” they are to blame for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children, according to arrest warrants issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova.
Russia refutes the claims, claiming that its only goal was to safeguard children from violence in conflict areas. Moscow, according to the Kremlin, rejects the ICC’s jurisdiction.
400 or so Ukrainian children who were transported to Russia during the conflict are now living there.
According to Kateryna Bobrovska, Yermokhin’s attorney, after being instructed to report to a draft office close to Moscow the following month, the young man ran the risk of being drafted into the Russian army.
She requested Zelenskyy’s assistance in bringing him home, drawing attention to the incident on a global scale.
According to Lvova-Belova, the children’s commissioner for Russia, Yermokhin flew from Russia to Minsk on Saturday, where he met a cousin before continuing on to Ukraine. She acknowledged Yermokhin’s desire to see his relative again.
Dmytro Lubinets, a human rights ombudsman for Ukraine, expressed his gratitude for Yermokhin’s return home following his protracted ordeal.