Putin’s forces ‘holding 6,000 Ukrainian children’ in camps
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Russian forces are holding at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in camps for “political re-education”, a US report claimed on Tuesday. Researchers at Yale University say they have identified at least 43 camps in Russia and occupied Crimea.
Children there have been held as part of a “large-scale systematic network” operated by Moscow since the start of the invasion last February.
Among those in the camps were children with parents or clear guardianship, deemed orphans in Russia.
Nathan Raymond, one of the researchers looking into the camps, said: “The primary purpose of the camp facilities we’ve identified appears to be political re-education.”
The report added that some of the children put through this system were adopted by Russian families of moved into foster care.
The youngest child identified in the Russian program was just four months old.
Some camps were putting children as young as 14 through military training, Mr Raymond added.
The researchers have not found evidence that any children were later deployed to fight in Ukraine.
Moscow has denied intentionally targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine and has pushed back against previous claims it had forcibly moved Ukrainians.
This comes as Russia continues to attack Ukrainian cities and the world fears a renewed offensive from Moscow’s men.
UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, believes Russia is throwing everything at the war in Ukraine now, with 97 percent of its forces now in the country.
He added, however, that Russia had not been able to “punch through” Ukraine’s defences.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, he also warned that Ukraine has show some of Europe’s defence weaknesses.
Mr Wallace said: “Ukraine has exposed across Europe – including in France and in Germany and other nations – our own vulnerabilities.
“Our ammo stocks, our readiness levels, our ability to meet Russia or any other enemy that chooses to play or attack us at what we call ‘below threshold’, before formal armed conflict.
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“It has been well known for decades that where the armed forces have had to save money on things like its readiness or its infrastructure, the places that got unfunded were the unsexy parts of defence.
“Maintenance, ship lifts, all sorts of things that you and I don’t think are that exciting but are nevertheless really, really important.”
The war in Ukraine has led to calls for the UK to increase defence spending, but reports in recent weeks claim the Treasury has blocked any increases.
Mr Wallace admitted that it is an “uphill battle” to try and get more funding.
Asked if he will resign if he does not get the money he wants, as he has previously pledged, Mr Wallace said: “No, let’s just get to the budget.”
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