How Many Ukrainians Have Been Deported to Russia since February 24th, 2022?

May 10, 2023
What are Russia's pretexts, methods, and goals for these deportations?
Photo credit: Reuters

UkraineWorld spoke to Vladyslav Havrylov, researcher at the Where are my people? project, to find out.

Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, says that 2,8 million Ukrainians have been deported to Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion. Non- and semi-official Russian sources report as many as 4,5 million deported Ukrainians, whom Russia calls "refugees".

To put things into perspective, during the 69 years of the Soviet Union's existence, the total number of people in ALL Soviet republics subjected to deportations by the Kremlin was 6 million.

Between 260 000 and 700 000 of the Ukrainians deported are children. According to the governmental resource Children of War, the number of deported children whose identities have been fully confirmed totals around 19 400.

The Russian regions which have received the most Ukrainian deportees are Rostov, Voronezh, and Belgorod Oblasts, meaning the Russians are deporting Ukrainians mostly to regions bordering the country.

However, to facilitate deportations of Ukrainians, Russians have established 807 so-called temporary accommodation centers (TACs) across the entire country. Russia is trying to disperse Ukrainians and make their potential return home the most complicated possible.

For deported Ukrainians to return to Ukraine is very complicated.

In each particular case, a given deportee needs to find a way to leave Russia. Many are trying to return through the Baltic states, but Russian border guards do not let them out.

Before deported Ukrainians are brought to Russia, they go through filtration checkpoints where their documents are usually confiscated and they are forced to receive certificates of temporary residence in Russia. 

When children are deported, they are usually taken from occupied territories after their parents are offered to send away their children for summer holidays or resorts in Crimea for a couple of weeks. These children usually do not return home. Deported children who have lost contact with their parents very often fall victim to forced adoption by Russians.

Russia is trying to make deported children into modern janissaries, turning them against Ukraine.

Some returned children say that TACs are often visited by Yunarmiya ("Young Army", militarized patriotic movement) and the Russian Orthodox Church, who brainwash deported children with propaganda.

Russia's overall goal is to leave as few young people in Ukraine as possible, creating a demographic catastrophe in the country while simultaneously solving its own demographic problems in Siberia, the Far East, etc.

Russia understands that sometimes hard power is not effective, so it uses its Orthodox Church for propaganda in occupied territories. The Church stresses that RU and UA are one nation, so the resettlement of Ukrainians  is about RU saving lives & taking refugees, not deportation (this word is never used).

Hence, Russia deports Ukrainians from occupied territories under the guise of evacuation - allegedly saving them from the war that it itself started. In doing so, Russia is resorting to crimes it has been committing for centuries, including forcible demographic changes and genocide.

MAKSYM PANCHENKO, Analyst and Journalist at UkraineWorld
Vladyslav Havrylov, researcher at the Where are my people? project