The Strasbourg-based assembly's resolution was welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday officially voted to designate the kidnapping and deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia to Russia, as "genocide".
The resolution demands the safe return of Ukrainian children who were taken by force to Russia, as well as appropriate punishment for those facilitating it – noting that the information gathered in the report aligns with the international definition of genocide.
It also notes that Moscow began illegal deportations from orphanages and care facilities even before it's full-scale invasion.
In a report led by Paulo Pisco, a Portuguese Deputy of the Assembly, Pisco said that deported children have undergone a process of ‘russification’ through re-education in the Russian language, being banned from speaking Ukrainian, and having been exposed to Kremlin propaganda.
These transfers of Ukrainian children were “clearly being planned and organised in a systematic way” as state policy, the resolution said, and had the abhorrent aim of “annihilating every link to and feature of their Ukrainian identity”.
Children living in institutionalised care are deported under the guise of evacuation from war-torn areas. Others are separated from their families in filtration camps.
According to statistics from the Ukrainian government from mid-April, over 19,384 children had been taken or transferred to Russia.
Zelenskyy welcomes resolution
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Thursday the PACE’s condemnation, adding that the document will help hold Russia accountable in the future.
"This is the first recognition of this fact at the level of such a high international organisation uniting the states of our continent," Zelenskyy says.
PACE concluded that it welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant in March against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the country's Commissioner for Children's Rights.