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Russia's Filtration Operations in Ukraine

Relatives of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) attend a rally demanding to speed up their release from a Russian captivity, in Kyiv. October 1, 2022.

Russian authorities have interrogated, detained, forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens from their homes to Russia.

Russia's Filtration Operations in Ukraine
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Of the many atrocities committed during Putin’s full-scale war against Ukraine, some of the most grievous relate to Russia’s filtration operations.

“Filtration” is the anodyne word describing a massive operation the Kremlin has launched to intimidate, imprison, forcibly deport, or disappear those Ukrainian citizens that Moscow decides could be a threat to its imperial ambitions to control and then annex Ukraine’s territory.

A recent report by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab identified 21 filtration-related facilities in the Donetsk Oblast alone. The report identified four types of facilities: those used for registration, holding, interrogation, and long-term detention. There are also checkpoints along main thoroughfares where Ukrainian civilians fleeing from Russia-controlled areas are subjected to filtration; and cases where civilians are simply rounded up and forcibly taken to filtration facilities.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted, “Estimates from a variety of sources, including the Russian government, indicate that Russian authorities have interrogated, detained, forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens from their homes to Russia – often to isolated regions in the Far East.”

She also said, “Estimates are that thousands of children have been subject to filtration, some separated from their families and taken from orphanages before being put up for adoption in Russia.”

Why is this filtration being done, along with other measures the Kremlin is taking in the areas of Ukraine currently held by Russia’s forces; the imposition of Russia’s educational curriculum in schools; attempts to get Ukrainian citizens to apply for Russian Federation passports? “The reason is simple,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, “To prepare for an attempted annexation. . .This effort to fabricate these facts on the ground is the predicate to sham referenda. It is part of the Russian playbook for Ukraine that we’ve been warning Council members about since even the beginning of the war.”

As the State Department has noted, “The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and constitutes a war crime.” State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “We demand Russia halt its filtration operations immediately...We call on the global community to join us in condemning this practice and calling for humanitarian access to be granted.”