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Aug. 4 () –
The NGO Amnesty International (AI) has denounced this Thursday that the Ukrainian troops are carrying out combat tactics that endanger the lives of civilians and that violate international humanitarian law.
As the organization explained in a statement, the Ukrainian Army would be operating very frequently in residential areas, including hospitals and schools, while repelling the Russian invasion, thus endangering the lives of civilians by turning civilian objects into military objectives.
“We have documented a pattern in which Ukrainian forces endanger civilians and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” said AI Secretary General Agnès Callamard, warning Ukraine that “being in A defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian Army from respecting International Humanitarian Law”.
However, not all Russian attacks documented by the NGO have followed this pattern. In other places where Amnesty International has concluded that Russia had committed war crimes, including parts of the city of Kharkiv, the organization has found no evidence that Ukrainian forces were present in civilian areas illegally targeted by the Russian military.
Between April and July, AI investigators spent several weeks investigating Russian attacks in the Kharkov, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions. At those locations, the organization inspected attack sites, interviewed survivors, witnesses and family members, and conducted weapons analysis.
Throughout these investigations, investigators found evidence that Ukrainian forces launched attacks from populated residential areas and settled on civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions.
Specifically, most of these were kilometers away from the front lines, so there were “viable alternatives available” that would not endanger civilians, according to AI in the letter.
Likewise, and despite the proximity to civilian areas, the organization has stated that it is unaware that the Ukrainian military, who have settled in civilian structures in residential areas, have asked or helped civilians to evacuate nearby buildings, which would not have allowed them to take all possible precautions to protect civilians.
On the other hand, Amnesty International has criticized that “many of the Russian attacks” have been carried out with “inherently indiscriminate” weapons, including internationally prohibited cluster munitions.
“The practice of the Ukrainian Army of locating military targets within populated areas in no way justifies indiscriminate Russian attacks. All parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between military targets and civilian objects and take all possible precautions, including in the choice of weapons, to minimize harm to the civilian population. Indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians or damage civilian objects are war crimes,” AI explained.
“The Ukrainian government must immediately ensure that it locates its forces away from populated areas, or it must evacuate civilians from areas where the military operates. The military must never use hospitals to engage in warfare, and must only use schools or civilian homes as a last resort when there are no viable alternatives,” Callamard said.