Ukrainian forces have endangered civilians in the war Amnesty International told Russia’s invading army by setting up bases in residential areas, including schools and hospitals.
In a report released Thursday, Amnesty said a team of researchers had “found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching attacks from within densely populated areas, as well as base on civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages” in three regions of the country from mid-April. and July.
The human rights group’s week-long investigation documented cases of Ukrainian forces setting up “de facto military bases” at five hospitals and in 22 of the 29 schools their team visited. throughout the eastern Donbas, northeastern Kharkiv and southern Mykolaiv regions.
Although Ukrainian schools have been closed since then The 24th February Invasion of RussiaMost are near residential areas.
“Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets. Subsequent Russian attacks on densely populated areas have resulted in civilian deaths and destruction of civilian infrastructure,” Amnesty said, adding that Russian forces had struck several school used by the Kyiv army.
Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets 👇https://t.co/EysZtcqqci
– Amnesty International (@amnesty) August 4, 2022
Amnesty notes that “international humanitarian law requires parties to a conflict to avoid locating, to the greatest extent practicable, military targets in or near populated areas.”
The report added that most of the residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers were found stationed are located kilometers away from the front lines of the war.
It said that “possible alternatives” already available, such as military bases or nearby heavily wooded areas, would not pose a danger to civilians.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty general secretary, said: “We have documented patterns of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in densely populated areas. reside”.
“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
At the same time, the human rights group stressed that “the Ukrainian military’s conduct of identifying military targets in populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate attacks by Russia”.
Russia is accused of regularly targeting civilians as part of attacks that have killed thousands, caused billions of dollars in damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure and forced millions to flee their homes. Moscow has denied doing so.
‘Disinformation and propaganda’
Kyiv immediately hit back at Amnesty’s report, based on eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery and remote sensing, calling it “unfair”.
“This behavior by Amnesty International is not about seeking and reporting the truth to the world, but about creating a false equivalence – between the offender and the victim, between the country that has destroyed millions of dollars. hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories, and one Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said in a video posted on Facebook.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said protecting civilian lives was “a top priority for Ukraine”, citing Kyiv’s efforts to evacuate non-combatants from frontline areas.
“The only thing that poses a threat to the Ukrainians is [Russia’s] Armies of executioners and rapists come to commit genocide,” he tweeted. “Our defenders protect their country and their families.”
Mr Podolyak also accused Amnesty of participating in what he described as a Russian “propaganda and disinformation campaign”, which he said was aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian military in its efforts to prevent its supporters continue to supply the country with weapons.
Today, Moscow tries to discredit the Armed Forces 🇺🇦 in the eyes of Western societies and disrupt the supply of weapons using an entire network of influencers. It’s a shame that the organization likes @amnesty are participating in this propaganda and disinformation campaign. 2/2
– айло одоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 4, 2022
For its part, Moscow stressed that this report appears to be consistent with previous claims that Ukrainian fighters have taken up positions in civilian areas.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a Telegram post: “We talk about it all the time, calling the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces a tactic of using civilians as a ‘leaf’ definitely human’.
The Russian state and pro-Kremlin media also widely cited the report.
A separate report last month by Human Rights Watch identified three times Ukrainian forces stationed among residential areas and four times Russian forces established military bases in populated areas of Ukraine. .