Documents from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) – now supposedly incorporated into Russia by Putin’s decree – showed the Kremlin’s plans to conscript children born in 2007 for its upcoming mobilization, reported Petro Andryushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol.

Recruiting children to fight against their own state would constitute a war crime.

Andryushchenko shared the documents in a Telegram update and said the creation of conscript files and the registration of children born in 2007 for military registration has already begun.

“For further military registration of students born in 2007, according to the lists you submitted earlier, it is necessary to create a personal file based on the attached lists until Dec. 29, 2023,” the document read.

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Andryushchenko said the mobilization will likely take place after the Russian presidential election in spring and replenish Russia’s “assault-meat battalions.”

If the mobilization takes place in 2024, that would place the children born in 2007 at 17, which is legally defined as children according to the Geneva Convention.

Article 50 of the Geneva Convention specified that occupying power may not enlist children “in formations or organizations subordinate to it.”

Meanwhile, Article 51 of the convention prohibits the recruitment of protected persons: “The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.”

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This is not the first report of Ukrainian children being drafted into the Russian military.

Bohdan Yermokhin, a Ukrainian orphan from Mariupol taken to Russia, received a draft summons into the Russian Army ahead of his 18th birthday. He was subsequently returned to Ukraine.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for abducting Ukrainian children to Russia.

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Lvova-Belova said more than 700,000 children were taken to Russia, and an AP News investigation discovered that “officials have deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories without consent, lied to them that they weren’t wanted by their parents, used them for propaganda, and given them Russian families and citizenship.”

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