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Russian official rejects UN, US allegations that Russia forcibly relocating Ukrainians

Russia’s UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzya

A Russian official has rejected as “propaganda” and “disinformation” new allegations by the United Nations and the United States that Moscow is forcibly relocating Ukrainians to Russia, more than six months after a military conflict erupted between Russia and Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Russia’s UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, told a UN Security Council meeting that accusations of relocating Ukrainians to Moscow-controlled areas in Ukraine or Russia were a “new milestone in a disinformation campaign unleashed by Ukraine and its Western backers.”

“As for the so-called filtration, first of all, we don’t really understand what is being talked about here because the return filtration doesn’t have a clear definition in international humanitarian law,” he added.

His comments came after Ilze Brands Kehris, the assistant UN secretary-general for human rights, said at the UN Security Council meeting that there had been “credible allegations of forced transfers of unaccompanied children to Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation itself.”

The US’s envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also claimed that Washington had information that Russian officials were overseeing so-called filtration operations. “These operations aim to identify individuals Russia deems insufficiently compliant or compatible to its control,” she alleged, claiming that Russian authorities had “interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported” between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainians to Russia since the onset of war.

Russia began its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24 with a declared goal of “de-Nazifying” its neighbor and “liberating” Ukraine’s Donbass region, which is composed of the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk were turned into self-proclaimed republics — the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) — by ethnic Russians, leading to a bloody conflict between government forces and the armed separatists that effectively continued until the start of the Russian campaign.

“We would note to those who are trying to confuse us with terminology: Ukrainians and residents of DPR and LPR who have come through Russia go through a registration rather than filtration,” Nebenzia further said on Wednesday.

He also described the council meeting as a waste of time.

The Russian envoy further requested that the council meet again on Thursday to discuss “real threats to international peace and security caused by the supplies by foreign states of arms and military goods to Ukraine.”

Since the onset of the conflict, the US and its European allies have imposed an array of sanctions against Russia and sent many shipments of weapons to Ukraine. On Monday, the European Union (EU) official in charge of foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell, said European countries’ own arsenals of weapons had been severely “depleted” as a result of the massive weapons transfers to the Ukrainian military.

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