Ukrainian Survivors Recount Horror of Russia's 'Genocidal' Deportation

This photo shows Natalia Kaluzhskaya with her mother Elena Nikolaevna, who was deported from Mariupol to Russia after Moscow's invasion and is now living in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan. [Natalia Kaluzhskaya]

Ukrainian survivors of forced deportation to Russia have told Newsweek of the confusion and terror of what leaders in Kyiv and international human rights groups have described as an ongoing campaign of genocide.

Up to 1.6 million Ukrainians are believed to have been forcibly deported from their homes by occupying Russian forces since February 24, according to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor.

Among them are hundreds of thousands of children, according to figures from Russia's own defense ministry. Many, according to several reports and admissions from Russian officials, are being adopted by Russian families.

The "evacuations," as Russian authorities term the mass relocations, are ongoing, for example in southern Kherson as Ukrainian troops prepare to make a fresh push for the city.

Some 45,000 residents of the eastern port city of Mariupol were among the first to be forced through Russian "filtration camps" and out of Ukraine in the first weeks and months of Moscow's invasion.

The city was largely destroyed in the battle and subsequent siege. The ultimate civilian casualty remains unknown, but some estimates put the toll in the tens of thousands. Those living in Mariupol on February 24 found themselves thrust into the chaos of Europe's most intense conflict since World War II.