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Trudeau describes Russian child abductions as part of genocide

Photo: Urs Flueeler Keystone via Associated Press “In the coming months, Canada intends to host a meeting of foreign ministers to advance work on the human cost of this war,” Mr. Trudeau announced during his speech. 

The Canadian Press in Bürgenstock, Switzerland

Posted at 8:19 a.m. Updated at 7:20 p.m.

  • Europe

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Russia must be held accountable for “the element of genocide” it is committing by kidnapping thousands of Ukrainian children from their homes and trying to erase their Ukrainian identity.

He spoke thus during the summit on peace in Ukraine, Sunday morning, which brought together representatives of 90 countries in Switzerland , and which aims to spark discussions on the path towards ending the war between Russia and Ukraine.

A joint declaration signed by the majority of participants called for Ukraine's “territorial integrity” to be the basis of any peace deal, but Mr. Trudeau focused on Ukrainian children kidnapped in the conflict.

“Regardless of what any specific person or country in the world might think about the causes of the war or the responsibility that Russia bears, everyone can agree that taking children away from their families, trying to erase their language, their culture: that is an element of genocide,” Justin Trudeau told reporters Sunday morning.

“That is pure colonialism. Those are things that Russia needs to be held accountable for.”

Trudeau did not use that term when asked about allegations that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

The Prime Minister participated in the closing press conference alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, and by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.

“In the coming months, Canada intends to host a meeting of foreign ministers to advance work on the human cost of this war”, announced Mr. Trudeau during his speech.

Earlier in the day, at the request of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister of Canada, co-chaired a session with Norway on the human dimension of war, which affects prisoners of war, civilian detainees and deported children.

In Russia's absence, the event is widely seen as a symbolic effort by kyiv to rally the international community to Ukraine's cause.

Participants faced a delicate balance, with many criticizing Russia for breaking international law while hedging their positions to leave the door open for Moscow to participate in future peace talks that could one day end the conflict.

Several leaders at the summit also stressed the importance of respecting international law around the world.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric drew parallels between the wars in Ukraine and Gaza during the opening plenary on Saturday.

“We firmly believe that this situation represents a serious violation of international law and human rights, the same principles we must say are being ignored by the Israeli government in Gaza,” he said.

As the International Court of Justice hears South Africa's allegation of genocide against Israel, Prime Minister Trudeau has hesitated to use the term to describe the situation in Gaza.

“We continue to follow the international institutions that we have. We continue to look at the work being done with the ICC [International Criminal Court] and the ICJ [International Court of Justice]. Canada supports international law and always will,” he said.

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The joint communiqué

In their joint communiqué, the 84 summit participants affirm that “the United Nations Charter , which includes the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, can and will serve as the basis for achieving complete, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

Several countries present did not sign the communiqué, including India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

The document states that any threat of nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine is “inadmissible.”

The signatories also argued that food security should not be weaponized, that all prisoners of war should be released in a full exchange, and that all deported children should be returned to Ukraine.

They also recognized that “achieving peace requires involvement and dialogue between all parties.”

Canada also announced a package of $52.4 million to help Ukraine. The money will go towards a range of initiatives, including support for abductees as well as survivors of war crimes and sexual violence.

Last February , a UN committee concluded that there was evidence of the forced expulsion of Ukrainian children by Russia.

He cites Ukrainian government figures that some 20,000 children have been moved from their homes. Committee vice-chairman Bragi Gudbrandsson adds that it is difficult to determine exact figures.

He said Russia denied the accusations. The committee also expressed concerns about granting Russian citizenship to these deported Ukrainian children.

Justin Trudeau returned to Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, concluding a five-day international trip that included the G7 leaders' summit in Italy.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116