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The European Union and 49 countries issued a joint statement condemning Russia for organizing an informal meeting of the UN Security Council aimed at spreading "disinformation about its widespread and unlawful forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children."
The statement, published by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya, claims the April 5 meeting has further abused "the power and privileges" of a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, which Russia chairs this month.
"Russia will seek to present its actions in Ukraine as in line with international law, children's rights, and the Children and Armed Conflict agenda. This could not be farther from the truth," reads the statement.
Russia's event included Maria Lvova-Belova, the country's commissioner for children's rights. Lvova-Belova and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin are subjects of arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague last month, citing allegations of war crimes for the abduction and illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.
"We unequivocally condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, including and in particular the forced deportation of Ukrainian children, as well as other grave violations against children committed by Russian forces in Ukraine," the joint statement added.
"No amount of disinformation spread by Russia can deny the truth of the matter, nor shield individuals from accountability for these crimes."
The U.K.'s mission earlier blocked the UN's webcast of Russia's informal security council meeting, saying that Lvova-Belova "should not be afforded a UN platform to spread disinformation." Such meetings are not held in the security council chamber, and all 15 council members have to agree to allow it to be webcast by the United Nations.
Russian forces have unlawfully transferred or deported 19,514 Ukrainian children to Russia, violating the Geneva Conventions, Ukraine's Reintegration Ministry reported on March 28. To date, only 327 children have been returned to Ukraine.