- Kremlin officials send lists of Ukrainians to imprison and deport, according to the United States.
- The State Department said Ukrainians were targeted by Russia’s “screening operations”.
- Russia’s filtration system is a network that includes detention and deportation facilities.
Top Kremlin officials are sending Russian forces lists of Ukrainian civilians targeted by a vast network of detention and deportation centers, the US State Department said on Wednesday.
Senior deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters during a Report that during Russia’s unprovoked war, Russian President Vladimir Putin relied on infrastructure, technology and transportation to detain hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians through what the United States calls “filtration operations”.
The filtration system is “a massive campaign the Kremlin has launched to imprison, forcibly remove or disappear Ukrainian citizens whom Moscow views as a potential threat to their control over Ukraine,” Patel said, adding that states United States had information that officials close to Putin were overseeing and coordinating the operation.
“We are further aware that Russian Presidential Administration officials provide lists of Ukrainians to be targeted for screening and receive reports on the scope and progress of operations,” Patel said.
The State Department says Moscow believes the filtration network is “essential” to its efforts to maintain influence over territory it currently controls in eastern and southern Ukraine.
In Russian-controlled territory, Putin’s troops and their proxies — like Moscow-backed separatists — are using technology to support filtration efforts, Patel said. This technology includes online databases, biometric data collection, facial recognition software, and tracking and monitoring of cell phones belonging to Ukrainian civilians.
Throughout the war, Ukrainians have described experiences in the Russian filter network – saying they were fingerprinted and forced to surrender their phones, told to strip and go to sleep on the ground and that they were subjected to interrogations.
Ukrainian and Western officials have also accused Russian forces of deporting civilians from captured areas to places deep within Russia. At Wednesday’s briefing, Patel showed reporters a map with arrows showing how Ukrainians were sent to northern, central and eastern Russia, thousands of miles away.
Last month, researchers of the Yale University Humanitarian Research Laboratory — with support from the Department of State — published a report documenting at least 21 facilities that are part of the Russian filtration system in the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, a territory ruled by pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow.
The screening system contains registration, detention, interrogation and detention facilities for Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war, according to the researchers, who said there is evidence the system was created before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.