Espreso. Global

Red Cross under pressure due to Russian chapter’s links to Russia’s war against Ukraine

12 March, 2024 Tuesday
17:10

The international Red Cross movement is facing mounting pressure to address its ties with the Russian Red Cross (RRC), given the apparent close connections between the RRC and the Kremlin's war and propaganda apparatus

The Guardian reported the information.

Key evidence includes the central role played by the RRC president in a pro-Putin "patriotic" organization, expressions from senior RRC staff suggesting a reluctance to pursue peace with "Ukrainian Nazis," and the RRC's involvement in military training for children.

Leaked Kremlin documents, disclosed by the Estonian publication Delfi and shared with multiple outlets further suggest that the Kremlin intends to supplant the work of the international Red Cross in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories by financing new, puppet Red Cross organizations. In response to these allegations, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) stated it is "reviewing the claims closely," following donor governments' calls for action against the RRC.

However, the International Red Cross faces a challenging situation, as taking action against the RRC could strain relations with one party in the ongoing conflict. The organization typically operates with discretion, believing that quiet diplomacy is the most effective way to continue its work. Any potential disciplinary measures against the RRC would only be considered after an investigation by the IFRC's compliance board, which has not commenced formally.

The IFRC stated, "At this stage, we are gathering information. This takes time. Once the claims are reviewed, there will be a decision on the next steps." 

Nevertheless, pressure is increasing from donor governments, with the UK Foreign Office, a major IFRC donor, awaiting the outcome of investigations into the allegations. The Swedish foreign ministry called for full clarity on the issues and expects the IFRC to take prompt action in line with its constitution, which includes measures such as suspension or expulsion.

RCC violations and ties to Russia’s war against Ukraine

The international Red Cross movement relies on governmental and philanthropic funding and often collaborates with local Red Cross chapters, all purportedly adhering to principles of “neutrality, impartiality, and independence.” However, evidence suggests that the Russian Red Cross (RRC) may be flouting these principles.

The RRC's president, Pavel Savchuk, formerly associated with the pro-Putin All-Russian People's Front, has signed agreements with institutions involved in controversial activities, such as Artek, a camp in Crimea under Western sanctions for its role in re-educating abducted Ukrainian children. Furthermore, senior RRC officials have openly expressed support for Russia's actions in Ukraine, while photographic evidence links RRC staff to military training events for Russian youth, some as young as eight.

Leaked documents suggest Kremlin plans to finance RRC offshoots in occupied Ukrainian territories, potentially violating international law. Despite these revelations, the RRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have not directly addressed concerns raised by the media.

Read also: Russian Red Cross caught on collecting donations for Russian army

Additionally, the RRC's involvement with entities like the "Donetsk Red Cross," which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does not recognize as an official Red Cross organization, raises further questions about the RRC's actions.

Given recent suspensions of Red Cross chapters, such as the Belarus Red Cross, for their involvement in controversial activities, pressure is mounting for the IFRC to investigate and potentially take action against the RRC.

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