The State Department imposed sanctions on Thursday on 11 people and two entities it identified as being connected to the forcible deportation of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas to Russia for adoption or their transferral to Russian-controlled camps for “reeducation” and sometimes military training.
The newly announced sanctions were the latest imposed by the United States against Russians or Russian-related entreprises over the 18 months since the Kremlin began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
One of the individuals is Aymani Nesievna Kadyrova, the mother of the Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Putin himself is under an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children, as is his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.
The two entities placed under sanctions are a Russian-owned camp and an organization that has overseen Ukrainian children who were sent to a camp in the Chechen Republic.
Seven of the people targeted by the new sanctions are Russian officials, and the other four, including Ms. Kadyrova, have ties to the camps. The sanctions block those targeted from owning or having interests in property in the United States, and block others from providing or receiving funds or services to them.
The State Department also said it was working to impose visa restrictions on three Russia-installed officials in Ukraine involved in human rights abuses of Ukrainian children in connection to their deportation or transferral to camps.
President Biden, in a statement recognizing Ukraine Independence Day on Thursday, said that the sanctions would “hold those responsible for these forced transfers and deportations to account, and to demand that Ukrainian children be returned to their families.”
“These children have been stolen from their parents and kept apart from their families,” he said. “It’s unconscionable.”
At a U.N. Security Council session on Ukraine on Thursday, the U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that while estimates varied, thousands of Ukrainian children were believed to have been forcibly deported during the war in Ukraine, some of them babies as young as 4 months old.
“Children are literally being ripped from their homes in the year 2023 by a country sitting in this very chamber,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said. “This is straight out of a dystopian novel, but this is not fiction.”
Once at the camps, either in Russia or in Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said, the children are subjected to propaganda, brainwashing, and, in some cases, military training. Some are pressured into accepting Russian citizenship, and others have been adopted by Russian families, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said.
Two sanctions were issued to the Federal State Budgetary Educational Institute International Children Center, or ARTEK, and the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation, or AKF.
The State Department said that ARTEK was a “summer camp” in Russia-occupied Crimea where Ukrainian children have been placed in “extensive ‘patriotic’ re-education programs and are prevented from returning to their families,” and that AKF has overseen the “re-education” of Ukrainian children in camps located in the Chechen Republic of Russia.
Others placed under the new sanctions were Galina Anatolevna Pyatykh, an adviser to the governor of Belgorod, Russia; Irina Anatolyevna Ageeva, the commissioner for children’s rights in Russia’s Kaluga region; Irina Aleksandrovna Cherkasova, the commissioner for children’s rights in Russia’s Rostov region; Mansur Mussaevich Soltaev, the Chechen commissioner for human rights; Muslim Magomedovich Khuchiev, the chairman of the Chechen government; Konstantin Albertovich Fedorenko, the director of ARTEK; Zamid Alievich Chalaev, a special police battalion commander in the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs; Olena Oleksandrivna Shapurova, the minister of education and science in Russia-controlled portions of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region; Vladimir Vladislavovich Kovalenko, the chief of staff of the Sevastopol Branch of the Youth Army, which has organized Russian camps in Crimea; and Vladimir Dmitrievich Nechaev, the Russia-appointed head of a Crimean state university.
“You will hear Russian officials say that their transfers of children are part of humanitarian evacuations,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said on Thursday. “But this is a gross perversion of reality and a futile attempt to justify the unjustifiable.”