war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia moves to change the ethnic makeup of occupied Ukraine by deporting Ukrainians and importing its own citizens

Halya Coynash
Russia is openly seeking to eradicate Ukrainian identity on Ukrainian territory, with one of the methods being to bring in its own people, very likely offering them ‘homes’ plundered from their Ukrainian owners

Melitopol under Russian occupation and machine guns Photo posted by Hromadske Radio

Melitopol under Russian occupation and machine guns Photo posted by Hromadske Radio

As well as forcing Ukrainians on occupied territory to accept Russian citizenship, Russia is trying to change such territory's ethnic makeup by bringing in its own citizens.   

The report by Russia’s state-controlled TASS news agency claims that it is the “Zaporizhzhia oblast authorities” that are planning to bring in at least 10 thousand ‘specialists’ and their families by 2033.  There are no such ‘authorities’, only Russians or local collaborators installed by Moscow to carry out its policies.  The plan is to bring 10 thousand ‘specialists’ from various fields, including “participants in the special military operation”, Russia’s euphemism for the soldiers and mercenaries sent to fight its war of aggression against Ukraine.  Favourable conditions will be offered “for life and professional development”, and families with many children will be especially welcome.  The calculation is that over 10 thousand ‘specialists’ would come, together with 30 thousand family members.  They also anticipate that three thousand businesspeople will “move to the region” with the potential creation by them of 15 thousand new jobs.  It is typical that this totally illegal plan has been named “Zaporizhzhia virgin lands”, echoing the (unsuccessful) ‘virgin lands campaign’ launched in Soviet times.   Russia is claiming that these plans are “for decades to come”.  It does not mention that all such transfers of its citizens, as well as the deportation of Ukrainians from their homes and foisting of its citizenship are in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Article 49 of this document, which the Russian Federation has committed itself to observe, is entirely unequivocal, stating that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” <> “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Russia has dropped any pretence since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and is carrying out deportations, coercive passportization, etc. extremely aggressively.  All such methods, however, were first applied after its invasion and occupation of Crimea and effective occupation of parts of Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) back in 2014.  From the outset, Russia made it virtually impossible to live and work in occupied Crimea without Russian citizenship, and then proceeded to forcibly conscript young Ukrainians into its army. 

On 24 April 2020, Russian leader Vladimir Putin issued his first decree simplifying the process for Ukrainians in the Russian proxy Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ to get Russian citizenship.  In July that year, he extended such simplified procedure to all those in Donbas.  There does not, in fact, appear to have been any great rush on taking such citizenship, and Russia resorted to overt coercion on all occupied parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

As reported, Russia is using a range of methods, all of them illegal to forcibly impose its citizenship and abduct or ‘deport’ those as having openly pro-Ukrainian views.  Parents are threatened with having their children taken away and placed in children’s homes if they don’t take citizenship, or if they do not send them to Russian-controlled ‘schools’, with registration in the latter requiring Russian citizenship.  Expectant mothers have recently been told in maternity hospitals that their babies will be taken away unless one of the parents has Russian citizenship.   On occupied territory, the invaders first began restricting access to insulin and other vital medication to those with Russian passports.  Since the beginning of 2024, all residents of occupied territory must have mandatory Russian social security which is only possible with Russian citizenship.

In recent months, Russia has also stepped up another form of coercion, namely claiming property to be ‘without owners’ if unoccupied or if the residents cannot prove ownership and Russian registration.   This is, of course, also simply a means of brazen plunder, with the Russian invaders thus appropriating huge amounts of property, some of which will presumably be used to provide the ‘incentives’ for the former soldiers, mercenaries and ‘specialists’ from Russia.   As well as needing a Russian passport to keep ones property, this will also be required in order to have any chance of receiving compensation for the homes Russian bombs and tanks destroyed, for example, in Mariupol.

All of this is aimed at destroying Ukrainian identity on sovereign Ukrainian territory and at claiming that it is Ukrainians who are ‘foreign nationals’ in their own homeland, and not the Russian invaders.

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