Russia: Forced conversion of Ukrainian teenagers into soldiers

Russia: Forced conversion of Ukrainian teenagers into soldiers

Russia is accused of forcibly converting Ukrainian teenagers into soldiers, a strategy designed to erase Ukrainian identity and strengthen its military forces.

Russia’s war machine, targeting young Ukrainians to turn them into soldiers, raises profound questions about ethics, human rights and modern war strategies. Bohdan Yermokhin, a Ukrainian teenager deported to Moscow, symbolizes Russia’s aggressive attempts to militarize Ukrainian youth. This article explores the dynamics of this situation, its legal implications and international responses.

Instrumentalizing Ukrainian youth

Bohdan Yermokhin, evacuated from occupied Marioupol and transplanted to Moscow, was plunged into an environment where nationalist indoctrination prevailed. Assigned to a foster family and enrolled in a Russian school, he faced a campaign to reshape his identity and allegiances, culminating in a Russian military summons.

The scope of the phenomenon

Yermokhin’s story is not isolated. Ukrainian authorities estimate that 20,000 children have been forcibly displaced to Russia since the 2022 invasion, with over 2,100 still missing. This systematic action raises concerns about a deliberate attempt to erase Ukrainian identity and bolster Russian military ranks through forced conscription.

Russia: Forced conversion of Ukrainian teenagers into soldiers

International legal consequences

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for key Russian figures accused of involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian children. These acts, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, are qualified as war crimes by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, given the illegality of forcing the local population of an occupied territory to serve in the occupying armed forces.

Russian conscription efforts

The process described by the Ukrainian authorities indicates a well-oiled strategy: the granting of Russian passports is followed by integration into the Russian education system, focused on the negation of Ukrainian identity, and culminates in conscription into the Russian armed forces. This method underlines the desire to turn young Ukrainians into military tools in Russia’s service.

Testimonies of young resistance fighters

Young people like Yermokhin and Artem, another deported teenager, testify to their resilience in the face of this assimilation campaign. Despite the pressure, their refusal to succumb to indoctrination and take part in Russian nationalist rituals demonstrates individual resilience in the face of a daunting ordeal.

Reactions and resilience

The return of some children to Ukraine, though a minority, offers a glimpse of hope and resilience. These stories highlight not only the immense personal challenges, but also the ongoing efforts to protect Ukrainian identity and sovereignty in the face of an attempt at forced assimilation.

A very worrying situation

The situation of Ukrainian children deported to Russia remains precarious, with long-term implications for Ukrainian national identity and demographic structure. The international community is called upon to respond to these human rights violations and to support efforts to reintegrate the children affected.

Russia’s strategy of forced conscription of young Ukrainians is a dark facet of modern warfare, revealing flagrant violations of human rights and international norms. The resilience of young people like Yermokhin and Artem embodies a spirit of resistance that defies attempts at national identity erasure and military exploitation. These events underline the urgency of a coordinated international response to counter this strategy and protect the future of Ukrainian youth.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.