Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Children to the Russian Federation: A Genocide?

Journal of Genocide Research (Forthcoming)

61 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2022 Last revised: 18 Apr 2023

See all articles by Yulia Ioffe

Yulia Ioffe

University College London; University of Oxford

Date Written: September 20, 2022


Since the onset of the latest wave of aggression instigated by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, numerous credible reports have emerged of Ukrainian children from temporarily occupied territories being forcibly transferred to the territory of Russia. While the figures provided by different sources are inconsistent, it is evident that forcible transferring of Ukrainian children is a systematic and extensive practice. International lawyers remain divided on extent to which Russia’s actions in Ukraine constitute genocide under any of the paragraphs of Article II of the Genocide Convention. Predictably, the fundamental challenge lies with proving dolus specialis, a special intent to destroy the group physically required by the genocide definition. I contend that forcible transferring of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation satisfies the prima facie elements for bringing a claim of genocide under Article II (e) of the Genocide Convention, including the requirement of special intent. In conclusion, I evaluate the prospects of existing legal actions concerning forcible transfers of Ukrainian children under international law and assess potential opportunities for strategic litigation.

Keywords: Genocide, Ukraine, forcible child transfer, forcibly transferring children, deportation, Russian invasion

Suggested Citation

Ioffe, Yulia, Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Children to the Russian Federation: A Genocide? (September 20, 2022). Journal of Genocide Research (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Yulia Ioffe (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom


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