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Amnesty says Ukrainian army endangered civilians, kyiv ‘outraged’


« NWe have documented a tendency for Ukrainian forces to endanger civilians and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, in a statement released on Thursday 4 august. According to Amnesty, the Ukrainian army put civilians at risk by establishing military bases in schools and hospitals and by launching attacks from populated areas to repel the Russian invasion. Such tactics violate international humanitarian law, warns the NGO in a press release.

“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from respecting international humanitarian law,” she added. Between April and July, Amnesty International researchers investigated Russian strikes in the regions of Kharkiv (east), Donbass and Mykolaiv (south-east), inspecting sites hit by strikes and interviewing survivors, witnesses and relatives of victims.

READ ALSOWar in Ukraine: millions of civilians lack food

Ukraine accuses Amnesty of creating a ‘false reality’

The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kouleba, said Thursday that he was “outraged” by the “unjust” accusations of the NGO Amnesty International, which accused kyiv of endangering civilians in the context of the war with Moscow. . “I am outraged just like you by the Amnesty International report. I consider it unfair,” Dmytro Kouleba said in a video comment posted on Facebook.

Dmytro Kouleba in return accused Amnesty International of “creating a false balance between the oppressor and the victim, between the country which is destroying hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories and the country which is desperately defending itself”.

“Stop creating this false reality, where everyone is a little guilty of something and start systematically reporting the truth about what Russia really stands for today,” he added.

Shortly before, the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, had assured that “people’s lives” were “the priority” and that the populations of the towns near the front were being evacuated. Mykhaïlo Podoliak accused Amnesty of participating in a “disinformation and propaganda campaign” in the service of the Kremlin’s arguments.

Other less risky options

According to the NGO, these researchers found evidence that Ukrainian forces were launching strikes from populated residential areas and had established bases in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in these regions. Most of the residential areas where the soldiers were located were located miles from the front lines, Amnesty notes, pointing out that other options that would not have endangered civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas in proximity – were possible.

The NGO indicates that to its knowledge the soldiers who settled in these residential areas did not ask the civilians to evacuate. She claims that Ukrainian forces have established military bases in schools and hospitals.

If the NGO denounces these Ukrainian tactics, it insists on the fact that they “in no way justify the blind Russian attacks” which have hit the civilian populations. Amnesty International says it contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense about its research findings on July 29 but had not received a response as of the press release.

READ ALSOWar in Ukraine: the blind spots of humanitarian aid


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