US calls on Russia to stop ‘filtration’ camps and forced deportations of Ukrainians


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that the number of Ukrainians taken to Russia could reach 2 million people. « No one is going to say the exact numbers now, » he said in a video address.

« All these deportees are deprived of communication, their papers are taken away from them, they are intimidated and they try to disperse them to remote areas of Russia so that it will be as difficult as possible for them to return to their homeland, » he said. said Zelenskyy. added.

Russia has denied forcing Ukrainians from their homes and says it is providing humanitarian aid and safe passage for people who want to leave the country. But mounting evidence proves that this is not true and that the filter camps were planned before the full-scale invasion of Russia on February 24.

The United States said last week that it had identified 18 filter camps set up along the Ukrainian-Russian border.

Russia has called its invasion of Ukraine a « special military operation » aimed at « liberating » parts of eastern Ukraine. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it increasingly clear through his actions and words that his ultimate goal is to see Ukraine entirely under Russian control, if not completely destroyed.

« Basically, we haven’t even started anything serious yet, » Putin said of his invasion of Ukraine last week, Reuters reported. He added that Russia was ready to fight « until the last Ukrainian is left standing ».

To increase Moscow’s influence in Ukraine and provide an additional pretext for its control of the territory to interfere, Putin on Monday signed a decree simplifying the naturalization process so that all Ukrainians receive Russian citizenship. The simplified procedure was previously only allowed for Ukrainians from the occupied areas of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Pushing the Ukrainians through the filtration camps, the Moscow forces told their captives that it would be best if they took Russian citizenship.

Survivors of Russia’s filter operations said they suffered horrific treatment at the hands of Russian soldiers and officials overseeing the camps and deportations. A family from Mariupol described in interviews with POLITICO how they were forced from their homes in freezing temperatures, crammed into buses with no food or water, and driven across the border into Russia, where they were separated.

The family said they endured multiple searches and interrogations along the way that lasted for hours. They were lucky to have escaped Russia, eventually making it to EU countries.

Blinken cited reports that Russian authorities often coerce Ukrainian citizens forced through camps to sign agreements to stay in Russia, making it difficult, if not impossible, to return home.

Russian authorities, Blinken continued, « deliberately separate Ukrainian children from their parents and kidnap others from orphanages before adopting them in Russia. »

« Evidence is mounting that Russian authorities have also detained or disappeared thousands of Ukrainian civilians who do not pass ‘screening’, » Blinken said. Many of them include members of the Ukrainian military, territorial defense forces, media, government and civil society groups, he said.

Citing Ukraine’s attorney general’s office, Blinken said Russian authorities had « transported tens of thousands of people to detention centers inside Russian-controlled Donetsk, where many were allegedly tortured. » Some, he added, were said to have been « summarily executed ».

Blinken demanded that Russia release Ukrainian detainees and allow citizens forcibly taken across the border « to return home quickly and safely. »


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