World · August 5, 2022

Ukrainian forces are endangering civilians

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

The defenders’ tactics “in no way justify Russia’s indiscriminate attacks,” the human rights group said in a new report, and some Russian “war crimes”, including in the city of Kharkiv, have not been linked to the tactics.

But Amnesty listed incidents in which 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 in which Ukrainian forces put civilians at risk and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” said Amnesty Secretary General Agnes Callamard.

“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from respecting international humanitarian law”.

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The residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers settled were miles away from the front and “viable alternatives” were available that would not endanger civilians, the report said.

But he said the soldiers had not told civilians to evacuate the areas, despite launching attacks on Russian forces who had exposed them to retaliatory fire.

Amnesty researchers have seen Ukrainian forces use hospitals as “de facto military bases” in five locations and 22 schools.

Although the schools were closed during the conflict, they were located in civilian neighborhoods.

“We have no say in what the military does, but we pay the price,” said one resident.

The Ukrainian government harshly rejected the report, arguing that Amnesty was in league with the Kremlin propagandists.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are taking all measures to move civilians to safer areas, according to Mykhailo Podolyak, one of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s main aides.

“The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is the (Russian) army of executioners and rapists who come to (Ukraine) to commit genocide,” he tweeted.

“Our defenders protect their nation and their families.”