The United States has seen indications that some Ukrainians caught up in Russia’s invasion are being forcibly moved to Russia, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday, calling the actions “unconscionable.”
“I can’t speak to how many camps or what they look like,” Kirby told reporters when asked about statements from Kyiv that some 1.2 million Ukrainians were being sent to Russia and placed in camps.
“But we do have indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia,” he said, adding that these actions are “unconscionable” and “not the behavior of a responsible power.”
The deportation of Ukrainians from their own nation – often to isolated or economically depressed regions of Russia, according to Kyiv – is another indication that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “simply won’t accept and respect Ukrainian sovereignty.”
Ukraine” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that thousands of Ukrainians had been sent to Russian territory in early April, six weeks after Russia launched its deadly invasion.
But that figure has since ballooned to more than 1.19 million, including at least 200,000 children, Ukraine’s ombudsperson Lyudmyla Denisova said.
Kirby stopped short of describing the deportations as ethnic cleansing, stressing it was not the Pentagon’s place to make such determinations. But he said there was abundant evidence of “Russian brutality” during the war.
Moscow has had “75 days of brutalizing the nation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” he said. “And every time you think they just can’t fall to a new low, they prove you wrong.”