Zelenskyy thanks Qatar for role in returning Ukraine children on Doha visit

Ukrainian president thanks Qatar for its role in returning children ‘forcibly deported’ by Russia during the war.

Zelenskyy and Sheikh Tamim
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani meet in Doha, June 5, 2024 [Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a visit to the Gulf country, voicing gratitude for Doha’s support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The Ukrainian president’s trip on Wednesday comes as Kyiv pushes to rally global support to fend off the ongoing Russian invasion.

Zelenskyy lauded Qatar’s role in “in returning children forcibly deported” by Russia. “We agreed to continue our cooperation in this area,” he said in a social media post.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of seizing thousands of Ukrainian children and teenagers and taking them to Russia since the beginning of the war in February 2022.

Russia denies the allegation and says it moved the children from fighting zones out of concern for their safety.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the alleged “war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children)” from Ukrainian-occupied areas to Russia.

Qatar has helped broker deals to reunite some Ukrainian children with their families, including 16 in April and six last month.

Qatar’s Amiri Diwan said on Wednesday that Sheikh Tamim discussed the latest developments with Zelenskyy, including the “international community’s efforts to end the fighting and protect civilians and keeping all communications channels open to solve the crisis through dialogue”.

It added that the two leaders also talked about issues of “mutual importance” for the two countries.

Zelenskyy is set to meet US President Joe Biden in Normandy, France this week, ahead of an international summit on resolving the war in Ukraine that will take place in Switzerland later this month.

“While [Biden] is in Normandy, he’ll have the opportunity to sit down with President Zelenskyy and have an engagement with him to talk about the state of play in Ukraine and how we can continue and deepen our support for Ukraine,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Ukrainian forces stopped Russia’s advance on Kyiv early in the war and pushed back the Kremlin’s troops in some areas. But the conflict slowly turned into a protracted war with most of the fighting taking place in eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian counteroffensive last year failed to make significant territorial gains for the country. In recent weeks, Russia has renewed attacks on the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.

Last week, several Western countries, including the United States, said they gave Kyiv the green light to use Western-donated weapons to attack targets inside Russia to help protect Kharkiv.

Source: Al Jazeera