Putin using Ukrainian children as human shields for Russian troops in Crimea

On June 6, Russia carried out a premeditated act of terror by blowing up the Kakhovka HPP, where their forces had planted mines back in 2022. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians found themselves in the zone of environmental disaster. Immediately after committing the crime, the Kremlin announced the removal of Ukrainian children to Crimea under the declared pretext of evacuating them from the flood zone and ensuring their further rehabilitation. The actual goal of the occupiers though is to use small Ukrainians as human shields – children will be placed at recreation bases just outside military facilities and near the positions of stationary air defense systems, artillery, and Russia’s Navy, which would be legitimate military targets for the Armed Forces during a counteroffensive.

Russia has long applied the tactic of using of the civilian population of Ukraine as human shields, even before unleashing the full-scale invasion. In March 2014, when the hybrid annexation of Crimea had already kicked off, Putin said that, if necessary, the Russian army would enter the territory of the peninsula and stand behind the backs of women and children should the Ukrainian army try to resist Russian invasion. The Kremlin has always committed crimes against civilians and employed terror and terrorist attacks as tools of war. In particular, there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the Russians blowing up the Kakhovka HPP and the forcible removal of Ukrainian children from the captured territories to occupied Crimea: Russia is terrified of a Ukrainian looming counteroffensive, in the framework of which the liberation of the peninsula is the biggest fear for Putin. After all, in this case, nine years of actual war against Ukraine and the losses incurred by the Russian Federation would be devalued in the eyes of Russian society. Therefore, Russia will use children as a cover for its military facilities and locations where weapons are deployed in order to prevent a Ukrainian counteroffensive, said Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets. According to the official, it is also likely that the Russians will commit acts of terror at their military facilities, which will lead to casualties, and Russia will, as always, will try to shift the blame onto Ukraine.

Since the outset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has forcibly deported at least 19,393 young Ukrainians to Russia, so there is every reason to believe that those Ukrainian children who will be taken to occupied Crimea may in the future be forwarded to Russia. Putin understands he will not be able to hold the captured territories in Ukraine for long so he is trying to inflict as much damage on the nation as possible — economic, demographic, etc.

Russia is a terrorist state whose crimes are becoming more and more threatening. Blowing up dams and deporting children is a crime for which the Kremlin must be held accountable, including through imposing new sanctions on Russia and proceeding with the country’s international isolation.