A Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Moscow from occupied Mariupol and then summoned to a military enlistment office will return to his home country, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said Friday.
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.
On Wednesday, media reported that the teenager, who now holds Russian citizenship, had received an order to appear at a military enlistment office in December after he turns 18, the minimum age for military service in Russia.
“I can officially confirm that we have made arrangements for Bohdan's return to Ukraine and his reunion with his sister,” Lubinets said on the messaging app Telegram.
The official said Ermokhin would return to Ukraine “soon” but did not provide a more specific timeline.
An attached letter said to have been signed by the teenager and addressed to the authorities in the Moscow region, where Ermokhin is currently residing, states that he refused to receive a state-provided apartment due to his “departure to Ukraine.”
Ermokhin’s lawyer Yekaterina Bobrovskaya published a video on Facebook on Thursday in which her client personally requested Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him return to Ukraine.
His sister Valeriya became his legally registered Ukrainian guardian after the death of their parents, and since being moved to Russia, he has lived with a Russian guardian outside Moscow.
Ermokhin tried to flee Russia in March but was caught by law enforcement at the Belarusian border.
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.
The International Criminal Court in March issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin and his human rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the illegal deportations of Ukrainian children.
Russia argues that it removed more than 700,000 Ukrainian children from areas of conflict since its full-scale invasion to ensure their safety.