UK Says Russia Attempting To Normalize Illegal Annexation Of Areas In Ukraine
The British Defense Ministry said Sunday that having Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev deliver the main report at the recent full session of Russia’s Security Council was an attempt to normalize the situation in the illegally annexed areas of Ukraine.
“In reality,” the ministry said in the intelligence update posted on Twitter, “much of the area remains an active combat zone, subject to partisan attacks, and with extremely limited access to basic services for many citizens.”
Russia’s Security Council met last week for the first time since October 2022.
Following the return of 31 children to Ukraine, the head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, emphasized in a phone call Saturday with Amal Clooney, a prominent human rights lawyer, the importance of returning all the deported children to Ukraine.
Yermak and Clooney, co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, discussed protecting the rights of Ukrainian children and holding Russia accountable for crimes committed against them, according to the official website of the president of Ukraine.
Clooney, who specializes in international criminal law and human rights issues, has addressed the U.N. Security Council calling for justice as evidence of the crimes and atrocities allegedly committed by the Russian military began emerging weeks after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
On behalf of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Yermak thanked Clooney.
“People in Ukraine know about your support and appreciate it a lot. Many people heard your speech and everything you said about the war and Ukrainians. This is extremely important indeed,” Yermak said, according to the president’s website.
Clooney reiterated her support for Ukraine and Ukrainians, adding that she and her foundation colleagues remain committed to their work to promote accountability and deliver justice for victims of international crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.
Kyiv says thousands taken
Kyiv estimates nearly 19,500 children have been taken to Russia in what Ukraine condemns as illegal deportations since Moscow invaded in February of last year. Moscow claims the children were transported away for their own safety.
Earlier Saturday, the head of a humanitarian group said 31 children were reunited with their families in Ukraine after what he described as was one of the group’s most difficult operations to return children from Russia, where they had been taken during the war.
So far, the Save Ukraine humanitarian organization says it has undertaken five missions to return Ukrainian children to their families. The group has helped with the transportation and planning needed to help parents bring their children back.
Mykola Kuleba, the head of Save Ukraine and Ukraine’s former commissioner for children’s rights, told reporters no one in Russia was trying to find the children’s parents.
Missile downed over Crimea
A missile fired from Ukrainian-held territory was shot down over the Black Sea town of Feodosia in Russian-controlled Crimea, the Moscow-installed head of Crimea’s administration said Saturday.
“A missile launched from Ukraine was shot down over Feodosia,” Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram, without providing any detail on the kind of projectile in question.
Feodosia, located in the southeastern part of Crimea, is almost 300 kilometers from the nearest Ukrainian-held area. Kyiv did not comment Saturday, and it is not publicly known to possess missiles with that range. U.S.-supplied HIMARS rockets used by Ukraine have a range of 80 kilometers.
Reuters said it could not immediately verify the reports and that it was unclear how Ukraine could have attempted such a strike.
Ukrainians placed flowers at a small memorial Saturday to the 61 people killed a year ago when a Russian missile struck the transportation hub as about 4,000 people gathered there to board evacuation trains. Experts said the Tochka-U missile was armed with cluster munitions. More than 160 people were injured.
“What is there to say? My close friend and her daughter and their dog died. What more can be said?” 67-year-old Tetiana Syshchenko told Agence France-Presse, tearing up.
She said she narrowly avoided being killed in the blast.
Residents arrived a few at a time to approach the small plaque topped with flowers and children’s toys at the station.
Russia denied responsibility for the attack.
Tatiana Vorozhko of VOA’s Ukraine Service contributed to this report.