2 Years into Russia’s Invasion, Ukrainians Still Fight Forcible Deportation

Sean Boynton - Global News

The most important phone call of Yevhen Mezhevyi’s life came in mid-June of 2022. His anxiety, fear and exhaustion at the time makes him fuzzy about the exact date.

What he does remember is the sound of his son’s voice. Matvii was calling from Russia, where he and his two younger sisters had been forcibly deported nearly a month before — the same morning Mezhevyi, a single father and Ukrainian soldier from Mariupol, had been released without explanation after spending 45 days as a prisoner of war in a Russian penal colony in Donetsk oblast.

Donetsk is part of the disputed Donbas region in Ukraine’s east that Russia quickly occupied after it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and later illegally annexed. Mezhevyi’s children are among thousands of Ukrainian youth who are the focus of increased international efforts to return them to their families.