Are orphaned Ukrainian children being flown to Russia to be adopted?

(Click here to watch and listen to the video version of this blog entry)


Occasionally you will come across some video online that catches your attention and suddenly you want to know more about it. It happened today (September 17, 2022) as I spotted a reddit post sharing a 1-minute video claiming to depict orphan children being taken from Ukraine to Russia “for their own good“. I have previously investigated and written a report on the forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians to Russia so this is something that I was definitely interested in checking out.

The Video

Below is the screenshot of the video posted to the Ukraine subreddit on September 17, 2022. In case the post gets deleted, here is an archived version.
The footage started with a clip of an aeroplane with the Russian flag allegedly carrying dozens of Ukrainian children. Based on their size and appearance I would say that their ages ranged between 5 and 12. The footage showed them being escorted out of the aeroplane accompanied by a few adults. The video then panned to a woman who claimed that “120 children have arrived on the territory of Moscow“. She added that the group would be spread out to 13 regions of Russia and there were already plans for a next batch of children.

Screenshot of the reddit post showing a video of allegedly Ukrainian orphans being taken to Russia.


After watching the video I was interested in finding out the answer to a few questions:

  • Was this footage recent?
  • Were the children really Ukrainian?
  • Were they really orphans?
  • Were they really being taken to Russia?

Basically I just wanted to know if the post caption and information on this video were reliable.
For that we only need to use search engines.

Searching for an image

The first thing I noticed was a logo at the top right of the video. This indicated that it probably came from a news agency so we might be able to find it.

Screenshot of the video. Red arrow points at the logo in the corner.

I took a screenshot of the logo and did an image reverse search. I always go with the top-3 search engines: Yandex, Google, Bing. The results are always vastly different and if one doesn’t catch it the other one usually does.

Yandex was, as expected, the best one as it is a Russian search engine. On the search results, seen below, you can immediately spot the “”. This tells us that it is a Russian website and since we already have the web address we can just write it on the address bar and check it out.

Going to “” confirmed that this was indeed the correct website as the logo and colour scheme was everywhere. Now I just need to find the story about the Ukrainian orphans being taken to Russia.
I don’t like wasting time scrolling around a website, especially as I can’t read Russian and I do not know if this was even recent footage. The video could be anywhere within the website.
So let’s target our search.

Searching in a website

We know what we are looking for: Ukrainian children being taken to Russia; and we know where we are looking for it: website. We also know that the website is, as expected, written in Russian so let’s quickly jump to Google Translate.
I like to keep it simple so I translated what I knew from the video. I went with “ukrainian orphans”, “airplane”, and “moscow”. I always separate keywords / key phrases in different lines so that Google does not attempt to translate it as a complete sentence and mess it up. The result of the translation can be seen below.

I did not want to search for “украинские сироты самолет Москва” as it would give me results from anywhere on the clearnet. I wanted Google to just provide me with results from the website as that was my target location. For that I had to specify in the search bar the website by adding a “” (no space between the “site:” and the “”).

The full search term was “украинские сироты самолет Москва”.
Below you can see how all the search results provided by Google are from the website.

The first link claimed to be an article published “1 day ago” and since I was expecting a recent news article with a video I went with that one.

The news article

I can not read Russian so I just used my very handy Google Translate chrome extension to translate the entire page to English.

The news piece title said “Children’s Ombudsman Lvov-Belova brought more than 100 orphans from the DPR to Russia” and had a photo of the same lady we saw in the video. A quick google search with the name “Lvov-Belova” provided extra evidence that this was the same person. Below is a comparison between the woman seen in the reddit video (left) with a photo at the top of the IZ news article about the Ukrainian children being taken to Moscow (right).

In fact, if you kept scrolling the news article you would see three videos. The first one where Ms Maria Llov-Belova talked to the camera as seen on the reddit footage, the second of the plane arriving with the children, and the third of what looked like a press conference.
The news article claimed that the group was comprised of 125 Ukrainian orphans, between the ages of 3.5 and 17 years old, some disabled. According to the text they were taken from the Donetsk People’s Republic, and flown to Moscow on an aeroplane by the Russian Aerospace Force on September 16, 2022. They were allegedly given Russian citizenship and would be placed under guardianship of Russian families “in the near future“.

Extra information

Out of pure curiosity we could also check some of the footage details to confirm the information provided in the article and videos. The news piece claimed that the Ukrainian children arrived on an aeroplane by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Several clips from the second video provided useful details that confirmed that. You could see a couple of aircraft identifiers such as the aeroplane model (Ty-154M / Tu-154M) indicating that this was a Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft, and the registration number was “RA-85123” if you want to (attempt to) track it down. You could also see the children being greeted at the door by men in uniform. A google image reverse search of the insignia on their arms revealed that this was, indeed, a patch worn by the Russian airforce personnel.

The answers

Now that I have found where the video clips originally came from, read the information on the news article, and verified the content, I can answer the questions I had at the beginning, to the best of my knowledge:

  • Was this footage recent? – Yes, from September 16, 2022.
  • Were the children really Ukrainian? – Yes, from the Donetsk region.
  • Were they really orphans? – Yes, allegedly.
  • Were they really being taken to Russia? – Yes, Moscow initially.


This small search concluded that, unfortunately, it was true and orphan children were being taken from Ukrainian territory into Russia to be naturalised and adopted into Russian families. According to the article, many of the orphans had already been separated from their siblings.
This was not the first group of children to be forcefully evacuated into Russian territory and, unfortunately, it would not be the last.

Thank you for reading!

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