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Swiss president Viola Amherd, Taoiseach Simon Harris, and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the peace summit yesterday Simon Harris on X
peace summit

Taoiseach calls on leaders to 'shout' about war crimes against Ukrainian children abducted into Russia

Harris this morning outline the case of a child who had been ‘constantly interrogated, electrocuted, and tortured’.

LAST UPDATE | 16 Jun

TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has called on the international community to “shout from the rooftops” about “horrific war crimes” against Ukrainian children in Russian occupied territories.

His comments came on the second of a two-day Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland.

Speaking yesterday, Harris said he had seen evidence from the Ombudsman for Ukraine of “around 20,000 Ukrainian children effectively abducted from their families, community and country”.

“How terrifying a thing is that to say, and how can the world turn its back on that?” Harris told reporters.

“When did it become acceptable for children to be a weapon of war? It is utterly illegal and morally repugnant.

“This is the stealing of children and it’s about time the international community calls it out, and I for one intend to do that.”

He further expanded on these actions this morning and the “horrors children experienced in the temporary occupied territories of Ukraine”.

“A child was constantly interrogated, electrocuted, tortured, forced to sign a confession to a crime he had nothing to do with,” said Harris, referencing a case contained in a report from the Ombudsman for Ukraine.

“We need to be shouting about this report from the rooftops.

“We must make sure there is awareness right across the globe of these horrific war crimes against children that are taking place today.

“But of course we must do more than just raise awareness, we need to be restless to take action.

“For my part, we will dig deep in terms of doing more in a practical way to assist the global coalition,” said Harris.

Peace summit

More than two years after Russia invaded Ukraine, leaders and top officials from more than 90 states are spending the weekend at a Swiss mountainside resort for a landmark two-day summit dedicated to resolving the largest European conflict since World War II.

The international Ukraine peace summit will today focus on food security, avoiding a nuclear disaster and returning deported children from Russia as countries outlined building blocks towards ending the war.

Ireland and 27 other countries are focusing on this strand, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia.

After world leaders stood together yesterday to offer their support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy voiced hope of garnering international agreement around a proposal to end the war that he could eventually present to Moscow.

“We must decide together what a just peace means for the world and how it can be achieved in a lasting way,” Zelensky told assembled leaders at the luxury Burgenstock retreat overlooking Lake Lucerne.

Food security

Talks on food security will examine the slump in agricultural production and exports, which has had a ripple effect across the world as Ukraine was one of the world’s breadbaskets before the war.

The 30 countries in this working group include Brazil, Britain, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Kenya, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and Turkey.

Talks will look at not only the destruction of fertile land through military operations but also the ongoing risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance.

“Finding a political solution in Ukraine remains crucial to stabilising food prices on the world market,” host Switzerland said.

Artillery attacks on ships in the Black Sea have driven up the cost of maritime transport.

“Ensuring free and safe shipping on the Black Sea would not only strengthen food security in many low-income countries, but also restore stability in the region,” Switzerland said.

Nuclear disaster fears

The nuclear safety group will look at the fragile situation surrounding the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, notably Zaporizhzhia, where all of the reactors have been shut down since mid-April.

Talks will hone in on reducing the risk of an accident resulting from a malfunction or an attack on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

“I am ready to participate in the discussion about nuclear safety because this is really a big threat to our security,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

Thirty countries will participate in this strand, including Argentina, Australia, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States.

Second summit

Minds are also turning to a potential second summit, at which Ukraine wants to present Russia with an internationally-agreed plan for peace.

Zelenskyy did not say whether he was prepared to engage with Putin directly in talks to end the conflict, though he has in the past ruled out direct talks with him.

“Russia should join this process because Russia is responsible for the starting of the process that’s called the war,” Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili told reporters.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Moscow could join the next summit “if we go in the good direction and the conditions are right”.

But Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani said Putin is “not interested in peace. President Putin stands for everything that is against peace, against stability and against good neighbourly relations.”

Others, however, warned Ukraine it would need to make difficult compromises if it wanted to end the war, and the range of positions hinted at the difficulty Kyiv faces in securing an agreement.

“Any credible process will need Russia’s participation,” Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said.

-With additional reporting from Diarmuid Pepper