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Russia returns six children to Ukraine: state media

Published May 22,2024

Russia has returned six children displaced by the conflict in Ukraine to their families in a deal brokered by Qatar, Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported on Wednesday.

Ukraine believes Russia has illegally taken more than 19,000 of its children since the start of its 2022 offensive, of which fewer than 400 have been returned.

The children -- a group of boys aged six to 17 that included two brothers -- were reunited with their families at an event in the Qatari embassy in Moscow, the agency reported.

The event was attended by the Qatari ambassador as well as officials representing Russia's children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, TASS said.

Lvova-Belova is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia, a charge the Kremlin denies.

Ukraine did not immediately comment.

Since July 2023, Qatar has helped bring back dozens of children taken to Russia and occupied territories during the two-year conflict, an issue that is highly sensitive in Ukraine.

Some of the children's parents were killed, while others were separated from their carers by the fast-moving front lines at the start of Russia's offensive.

Some were living in Ukrainian orphanages in areas Russia then occupied.