About 200,000 Ukrainian children are missing due to Russia's full-scale invasion, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Just imagine, we don't know where 200,000 children are now,” Zelensky said during a press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Thursday.
“Some of them are deported, some are in the occupied territories, and we don't know who is alive,” he continued.
Some context: Moscow has been accused of forcibly and unlawfully transferring Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russia. In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova Belova for their responsibility in the alleged forced deportations.
The Russian government doesn’t deny taking Ukrainian children and has made their adoption by Russian families a centerpiece of propaganda.
Some of the children have ended up thousands of miles and several time zones away from Ukraine. According to Lvova-Belova’s office, Ukrainian kids have been sent to live in institutions and with foster families in 19 different Russian regions, including Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tyumen regions in Siberia and Murmansk in the Arctic.
Lvova-Belova dismissed the ICC’s arrest warrant against her, saying it was “great” that the international community appreciated her work for children, according to Russian state news agency TASS.