A Ukrainian teenager taken to Moscow from the occupied city of Mariupol has been summoned to a local military registration and enlistment office, media have reported.
Bohdan Ermokhin, 17, was one of a group of several dozen children moved from the Donetsk region by the Russian military and placed with foster families in Russia.
“I no longer have doubts about Russia’s plans,” his lawyer, Yekaterina Bobrovskaya, told the Ukrainian news site Grati. “When Bohdan turns 18 in three weeks, he will already be an adult, and, most likely, he will be sent to serve in the Russian army.”
Russian children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova said in July that over 700,000 Ukrainian children have been “received” by Russia since its full-scale invasion in February 2022, an “overwhelming majority” of whom arrived without parents or relatives.
Yermokhin’s legally registered Russian guardian, Irina Rudnitskaya, told the BBC’s Russian service that he was not conscripted and that he merely needed to verify personal information.
Even if he were conscripted, “conscripts do not participate in the SVO,” she said, using the abbreviation for “special military operation,” the Kremlin’s term for its invasion.
President Vladimir Putin promised conscripts would not take part in active combat at the beginning of the war. The BBC had verified at least 57 conscript deaths in Ukraine by August 2023.
Yermokhin, an orphan, tried to flee Russia in March 2023 but was caught by security forces at the Belarusian border. Lvova-Belova said he had been deceived and lured back to Ukraine via manipulation and threats.
“A very positive boy, he helped our military, he was so pro-Russian,” she said.
A former foster mother in Ukraine told the BBC their social media correspondence had been deleted after the escape attempt and none of his Mariupol acquaintances had heard anything from him since.
Despite Yermokhin’s current possession of a Russian passport, the Ukrainian government considers him a citizen of Ukraine and his conscription illegal.
The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for Putin and Lvova-Belova's arrest for the illegal deportations of Ukrainian children.
Moscow maintains that it removed the children from areas of conflict to ensure their safety.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Yermokhin was drafted into the Russian military.