The United States has placed Russia on a list of countries involved in human trafficking or forced labor, the US State Department announced on July 19.
Russia has also been placed on a list of countries whose security forces or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers.
Russia features in the ministry’s annual human trafficking report, which assesses the performance of 188 countries and territories, including the United States, in preventing trafficking, protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers.
The U.S. State Department said Russia figures particularly prominently in a new section of the report titled State-sponsored human trafficking because of its activities in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there are currently nearly 25 million victims of trafficking worldwide and specifically commented on those from Ukraine.
“Millions of Ukrainians have had to flee their homes… some leaving the country completely, most with just what they were able to carry,” Blinken said at a ceremony when the report was presented. “This makes them very vulnerable to exploitation.”
In addition to Russia, the state-sponsored trafficking section lists Afghanistan, Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and five other countries with a documented “policy or pattern” of human trafficking. human beings, forced labor in government-affiliated sectors and sexual slavery in government camps.
The report also contains a separate list of 12 countries that employ or recruit child soldiers. It included Russia and a number of other countries that are on the new list of sponsoring states.
The individual chapters of the country report detail the extent of trafficking in each. The Russian chapter said Moscow was “actively complicit in the forced labor” of North Korean migrant workers, including issuing visas to them in an apparent attempt to circumvent UN resolutions requiring their repatriation.
He also cited reports that after taking parts of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region in 2014, Russian-backed separatists used children to work at checkpoints and serve in other jobs, including as fighters.
In addition, he cited reports that Russian-led forces have forced thousands of Ukrainians, including children, through “filtration camps”, where they are forced to accept Russian passports before departing. to be transported to remote areas of Russia.
The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report’s allegations, according to Reuters.
Blinken said the United States is committed to fighting human trafficking because it destabilizes societies, undermines economies, hurts workers, enriches those who exploit trafficked people, undermines legitimate businesses, and “more fundamentally, because it’s so deeply wrong.”