Fact Check: Western Diplomats Did NOT Refuse To Meet With Donbas Children In Belarus Out Of Fear


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Western Diplomats Did NOT Refuse To Meet With Donbas Children In Belarus Out Of Fear Wrong Reason

Did Western diplomats decline an offer to meet with children from Donbas, currently in Belarus, out of fear to look into their eyes and tell them the truth? Is the claim that Belarus has been abducting or forcibly transporting children from Donbas to Belarus fake news? No, that's not true: The EU Delegation refused to participate in the visit offered by Belarus because of EU grave concerns regarding the circumstances under which Ukrainian children were brought to Belarus and the fact that the Embassy of Ukraine was not invited. In correspondence with Lead Stories, the Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson clarified that only a minority of the diplomatic community accepted the invitation.

The claim appeared in a video on the TikTok account @zabelarusz (archived here) on October 11, 2023, and was also shared by the account @ldpb_pravda (archived here).

The Russian text shown in the video states:

Gaidukevich on the meeting of foreign diplomats with children from Donbas: Western diplomats were afraid to come to Belarus; they were afraid to look into the eyes of these children. The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited all accredited embassies, including representatives of Western missions, to meet with children from Donbas who are resting and receiving treatment in Belarus.

The two main arguments in this video, which supposedly support these claims, are as follows:

  1. If Western diplomats had met with the сhildren of Donbas, they would have had to debunk the fake news, reported in the West, regarding the abductions and forced transportation of children to Belarus.
  2. Explain to the children why the West turns a blind eye to the fact that children have been killed in Donbass since 2014.

(The text and the audio have been translated into English from Russian by Lead Stories staff).

Oleg Gaidukevich is the head of the pro-regime Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus.

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-10-23 at 12.09.13.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Oct 23 10:40:11 2023 UTC)

On October 4, 2023, the EU delegation in Minsk issued the following statement on its Facebook page:

The European Union and its Member States will not join the visit to Ukrainian children in the city of Navapolatsk on 4 October 2023, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. The EU and its Member States have on various occasions expressed their grave concerns regarding the circumstances under which Ukrainian children are brought to Belarus. In this regard, we regret that the Embassy of Ukraine, which is the most interested party as it concerns its citizens, has not been invited to the briefing on this issue on September 22, 2023, nor to the visit to Navapolatsk on October 4, 2023.

In correspondence with Lead Stories, the spokesperson at the Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nicolas Fierens Gevaert, wrote:

Please find below the reaction of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs of Belgium:

Following reports and a number of international statements that Belarus was also involved in the illegal transfers of Ukrainian children to Russia (and therefore also to Belarus), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus decided at the end of September to invite the diplomatic corps in Minsk to a press briefing. The Delegation of the European Union in Minsk read the following text on behalf of all EU Member States and published it on its social media. Some EU Member States were also present. Ukraine was not invited to this briefing.

During the briefing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus announced that a visit to Navapolatsk would be organized for the diplomatic community to see how well these children are doing. The EU Member States jointly decided not to participate in this visit. The EU Delegation published the following statement on this issue. Ukraine was again not invited. In the end, only a minority of the diplomatic community accepted the invitation (Heads of Mission from some - not all - members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Russia, Cuba, China, etc. as well as some lower-ranking diplomats (e.g. India's Deputy Head of Mission). Turkey and the United Nations, for example, were also absent. Therefore, it is not correct to say that only Western diplomats refused to participate in this visit.

Numerous Ukrainian children have reportedly been involuntarily transported to Belarus in an alleged war crime that might involve Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Some 2,150 Ukrainian children are believed to have been transported to a minimum of four camps in Belarus since September 2022. The number is expected to rise to 3,000 by this fall. There are allegations that some children have undergone military training.

Evidence connecting these alleged actions to President Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials has been submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC investigation may now be expanded to include Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials. On July 18, 2023, The European Parliament, in a report, urged the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had already issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, to consider a similar arrest warrant for Belarus Leader Alexander Lukashenko. The report emphasized that Belarus, under Lukashenko's regime, should be held accountable for crimes committed against Ukraine, specifically the deportation of Ukrainian children. According to the EU and the Ukrainian presidential commissioner for children's rights, Daria Herasymchuk, more than 16,000 children are believed to have been deported so far from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

The claim that the West is turning a blind eye to the fact that children have been killed in Donbas since 2014 is not true. It's a pro-Kremlin propaganda narrative that falsely blames Ukraine for the "systematic extermination of the Donbas population" that has allegedly been going on since 2014.

Since 2014, armed clashes have taken place in the Ukrainian Donbas between supporters of the self-proclaimed Russia-backed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), and the Ukrainian military units. However, independent sources have reported that civilians in Donbas were dying and suffering at the fault of both sides of the conflict. The conflict zone has become one of the most mine-contaminated areas in the world. The "genocide" of the Russian people in Donbas is a myth used by the Russian authorities as one of the pretexts for the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. International organizations such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE, which have been monitoring the state of human rights in the Donbas region since 2014, have found no signs of genocide in Donbas.

  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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