Boasting of Her Crimes to the World: What Maria Lvova-Bielova Said at the UN

April 14, 2023
Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights made a speech in the UN to justify Russia's War Crimes Against Ukrainian Children.
Photo credit: Associated Press

On 5 April, Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights in Russia gave a speech online at the UN Security Council alongside other Russian diplomats in which she denounced "fake accusations aimed at discrediting Russia" and  "violations of children's rights by the West and Ukraine."


In addition to the usual accusations that "the Ukrainian military and government spent eight years killing children in Donbas," she characterized Russia's removal of children from Ukraine with words like "evacuations" and "saving children," omitting that Russia had deported children from their homes and refused to return them to Ukraine.

She also argued that the children in Russian custody are saying that "they know who bombed them and who made them sit in bombing shelters," and insisted that unlike Ukraine, Russia never used children in propaganda "in contrast to Ukraine" and "puts children on the first place".

Moreover, omitting the real number of Ukrainian children, who were deported to Russia and Ukrainian territories that have been occupied since 2014, and cases of refusals to return them to Ukraine, she claimed that "Russia is ready for a dialogue to return children to families".

The reality is quite opposite: Maria Lvova-Belova has been systematically committing crimes against Ukrainian children and is the most visible face behind Russia's policy of kidnapping Ukrainian children in order to force them to become Russians.

She herself "adopted" a child from Mariupol, a city that was destroyed by Russian troops, and offered personal thanks to Vladimir Putin for allowing her to "become a mother to a child from Donbas."

Her government also expedited procedures for making children from occupied Ukraine into Russian citizens.

Russia also trotted out a girl from Mariupol whose mother, according to reports from people who knew the girl, was likely killed by Russian troops during the siege of Mariupol, during a pro-war rally in Moscow on February 22 to give "thanks" to Russian soldiers for "saving her from Mariupol."

These Russian statements at the UN come in response to actions by the International Criminal Court. On 17 March, the Court issued warrants of arrest for Bielova and Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of  war crimes against Ukrainian children, namely their unlawful deportation and transfer to Russia and occupied territories.

This decision was taken based upon evidence of systematic Russian actions to deport Ukrainian children and "re-educate" them as "Russians" either in special camps and institutions or in foster families.

These children came from areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts that have been temporarily occupied since 2014, as well as parts of  from Zaporizhzhyaa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk Oblasts that have been put under occupation since the beginning of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine. According to a report published by the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health, at least 6000 children have been held in "re-education" camps in Russia.

The address by the Russian delegation was condemned by 50 countries. Ambassadors from the US, UK, Malta, and Albania walked out of the chamber during the speech in protest.

Moreover, the UK also blocked a UN webcast of Bielova's remarks, commenting that "if she wants to give an account of her actions, she can do it in the Hague."

To conclude, Russia is using its Presidency of the UN Security Council  to share the most cynical and outrageous propaganda and to justify numerous war crimes committed against Ukraine. This speech by Maria Lvova-Bielova represents a proud and open confession that Russia is deliberately committing war crimes against Ukrainian children.

Analyst and Journalist at UkraineWorld