Belarus has been mentioned once again in the context of Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia. The only thing is that this time everything ended well. However, the question remains: why exactly Lukashenka is kidnapping Ukrainian kids? The answer can be a very unexpected one.
On October 16, American newspaper The Washington Post reported that Russia agreed to release four Ukrainian children in the age from 2 to 17 and let them return to their families in Ukraine. Qatar intervened as a mediator, the source of the edition said. Two of the children are now back with their families and two others are expected to be reunited with theirs in the coming days.
The negotiations about that lasted for several months and had been initiated by the Ukrainian government. “The Ukrainian children passed through Qatar’s Embassy in Moscow and took different routes home. Some traveled or were scheduled to travel from Russia to Ukraine via Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Others went through Belarus,” the newspaper says. According to a Qatari official, who preferred to remain anonymous, “the travel arrangements involved several types of transport, including diplomatic convoy, train and a privately chartered plane through Qatar”.
The newspaper says, that one of the children, the 2-year-old, is from Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. When the war started, he was only 6 months old and was in the hospital. It is still unclear how he was kidnapped by the Russians, since the Zhytomyr region was not occupied. Fortunately, the kid has already been reunited with his mother, and they are expected to travel to Ukraine this week.
Also, a 7-year-old boy is returning to Ukraine; he has been kept in a children’s home in Russia. His grandmother came to Russia to take him back home. It is known that the boy’s mother has been arrested by the Russians and is kept in custody somewhere in Russia, but it’s unclear when or why she was detained.
One more child, a 9-year-old boy, was staying with his grandmother and his grandfather in Kherson region when Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied the region at the very beginning of the war. He is expected to return to Ukraine on October, 18. The 17-year-old girl, whose relatives were unable to come to Russia to retrieve her, is also expected to reunite with her family on the same day.
The Qatar authorities have already said that “if all goes smoothly, it could pave the way for other returns”. Of course, for now, that exchange is a drop in the ocean. The same Qatari official noted, that the Ukrainian list contains the names of thousands of children while Russia admits to a much smaller number. According to him, that discrepancy makes it difficult to find and return all of the children sought by Ukraine.
Another American edition – The Wall Street Journal – added to that story. It states that the return of several Ukrainian children from Russia under Qatar’s mediation gave hope for the return of hundreds of other children. Ukraine accuses Russia of forced displacement of over 19 thousand children committed with the aim to destroy the Ukrainian identity. However, Russia admits to only be keeping about 600 Ukrainian children and claims that they have been moved to the territory of the Russian Federation “for the reasons of their safety”.
According to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, four more children are expected to be brought back to Ukraine in the near future. To remind, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, for illegal deportation of children. Qatar has played a diplomatic role in facilitation of the return of children and promised to provide Ukraine with humanitarian help in the amount of $100 million. The process of family reunification is a complicated and expensive one, it demands verification of the identity and getting a consent from the family.
However, what we are more interested to consider in this article is the role of Belarus in the whole process. For now, it is totally unclear, what kind of children are returning to Ukraine through the Belarusian territory and how. What is even more important to understand is the reason why the Belarusian regime is taking children from Ukraine to Belarus under the direct order of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. What does the Belarusian dictator need the little hostages for?
We have unexpectedly learned the opinion on the issue of one of our Ukrainian colleagues. This is what he said:
“You’ll see, as soon as the war finishes and Ukraine wins, Lukashenka will immediately bring Ukrainian children back to their motherland. He might even bring them to the border personally, and they will be clean, healthy and well dressed. And then he will tell the public that he has saved them from the evil Russia, hid them from Putin, sheltered them in Belarus, and so on… Because he understands that the Russian Federation is not going to win this war, and he will have to restore relationship with Kyiv afterwards, ask for forgiveness in order to rebuild the trade between the two countries that Belarus needs. And the flaunty return of the “saved” children will be a very strong move.”
Let us add that should the things go not so well for Ukraine the little hostages of the Belarusian regime might as well be transferred to Russia. Or, after several years of brainwashing and “de-Ukrainization”, be used to replenish the Belarusian workforce pool and slightly improve the substantially faltering Belarusian demography. At least, the management of Belaruskali have already articulated publicly their plans to grow Ukrainian teenagers into Belarusian miners.