Condemning Kidnapping of Ukrainian Children

Floor Speech

Date: March 28, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BACON. Mr. Speaker, 16,226 children in Ukraine have been taken from their families by Russia through forced transfers and deportations between February 24, 2022, and March 22, 2023. Let me say it again. 16,226 Ukrainian children have been taken from their homes and sent to Russia. Most people call this act kidnapping or abduction.

In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council determined that the Russian actions are a violation of human rights. On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin for these kidnappings.

When the Russians take these children, they are sent to ``reeducation camps'' where they wait until a Russian foster family is found.

What lies are told to these children? That their family is dead?

In the case of 12-year-old Sashko, the Russians told him his mother ``no longer needed him.''

In March of 2022, Sashko and his mother, Snizhana, were captured in Mariupol and separated in the Russian camp, not even allowing them to say goodbye to each other. Sashko was taken to have an eye injury treated and was then placed in an orphanage. After some time, he found a phone and secretly called his grandmother. She gathered all of his documents and risked her own freedom and possible detainment to go and get him. The love of a grandmother.

With his grandmother's efforts, his courage, and the assistance of a large network of government and nongovernment entities, they were happily reunited. Sadly, they have not heard from his mother or even know where she is.

While this story is hopeful, there are only 307 other children who share the same happiness of being returned to their families in Ukraine, which means there are approximately 16,000 missing Ukrainian children in Russia. We must join and support the Child Rights International Network, Bethany Christian Services, Voices of Children, and approximately 34 other organizations who are working together to save these children.

The concurrent resolution we are proposing and submitting today strongly condemns this practice by Russia. This practice was employed by ruthless dictators like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, and other sadistic tyrants. Today, we can add Putin to that terrible list.

Children everywhere should be protected from the cruelty of being ripped from their families and trafficked to another nation to be ``reeducated'' and placed with a foreign family under the guise of the child not having a family.

This resolution rebukes nations who provide aid and support to the Russian kidnapping enterprise. It condemns the forced adoption of Ukrainian children and implores Russia to work with international human rights and child welfare organizations to ensure the return of Ukrainian children to their home country and their families.

We should have zero moral ambiguity when it comes to Putin. He is a war criminal and is committing barbaric human rights violations. He should be a global outcast and be held accountable.

I thank Senator Klobuchar for introducing the companion legislation in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues in the House to join me in this mission of getting the Ukrainian children home.