Skip to content

Why Putin kidnapped Ukrainian children — despite facing arrest for this war crime

The UN’s International Criminal Court in The Hague today ordered the arrest of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for seizing Ukrainian children from their families and deporting them to Russia for forced adoption.  The court charged Putin with the “war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children).”  Estimates range from 16,000 children  to over a quarter million children captured and taken to Russia.

A group of stolen children from Mariupol are paraded on stage with a Russian soldier at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on February 22, 2023 at a pro-war rally marking the one year anniversary of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Amnesty International quotes an 11-boy on what Russia calls its “filtration” process:

“They took my mom to another tent. She was being questioned … They told me I was going to be taken away from my mom … I was shocked … They didn’t say anything about where my mom was going … I didn’t get to see my mom … I have not heard from her since.”

On May 30, 2022, Putin issued an order expediting the “adoptions,” turning children into “spoils of war,” as the UN Court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, told BBC.

But why? Why Putin’s fanatic need for Ukrainian babies? Putin, along with his right-wing religious fundamentalists in the Muscovite Church, is aware that Russia’s population will be one-third Muslim in 15 years. Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov lamented to the Moscow Times “there won’t be any Russians left in 2050.” Unless, that is, Russia absorbs Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

Those who claim Putin wants to restore the USSR are dead wrong: that would bring in huge Muslim and Catholic populations. Rather, Putin’s dream is to restore Catherine the Great’s Empire with a majority “Russian” (i.e. white, Orthodox) population.  This is also a motive for Putin’s vicious attacks on LGBTQ citizens for allegedly undermining the “Russian family,” i.e. the baby-making nuclear families of yore. Human Rights Watch notes that Putin has signed laws that ban the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”  That is, anyone supporting gay rights is subject to arrest.

Putins goals can conflict comically: if a same-sex Russian couple wants to “adopt” a captive Ukrainian — that’s explicitly barred under his law.

* * * * *

Congratulations to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny who courageously courts another extension of his prison term by calling for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine, including Crimea.  The film Navalny rightly won the Oscar for Best Documentary.  This is investigative journalism at its jaw-dropping best.  Which is why the story of Putin’s assassination machine was not uncovered by a US news outlet.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

Palast is currently working on a new documentary Long Knife, exposing the Koch Brothers' theft of Osage oil, to be released in 2024.

Support The Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive.
Become a monthly Contributor.

Subscribe to Palast's Newsletter

Support the Palast Fund and keep our work alive!
Send this to a friend