close
Saturday August 13, 2022

Ukraine forces endangering civilians: AI

By AFP
August 05, 2022

LONDON: Ukrainian forces are violating international law and endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The accusations sparked angry criticism from Kyiv that the rights group was drawing a "false equivalency" between the actions of Russia’s invading forces and Ukrainians defending their homeland.

Amnesty said in its report the tactics "in no way justify Russia’s indiscriminate attacks", and some Russian "war crimes" including in the city of Kharkiv were not linked. But it listed incidents when Ukrainian forces appeared to have exposed civilians to danger in 19 towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.

"We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas," Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard said.

"Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law." Residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers based themselves were miles away from frontlines, and "viable alternatives" were available that would not endanger civilians, the report said.

But it said the soldiers had failed to tell civilians to evacuate the areas, despite launching strikes on Russian forces that exposed them to retaliatory fire. Amnesty researchers witnessed Ukrainian forces using hospitals as "de facto military bases" in five locations, and in 22 schools.

Although the schools have been shut during the conflict, they were located in civilian neighbourhoods. "We have no say in what the military does, but we pay the price," the report quoted one resident as saying. Ukraine’s government pushed back hard at the report, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba branding the allegations "unfair".

Comments