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Amnesty International Accuses Ukraine of Putting Civilians at Risk

Aug. 4, 2022 (EIRNS)—For the first time, an international human rights organization has confirmed that the Ukrainian military is indeed putting civilians at risk, as the Russians have been charging for many months. “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals,” Amnesty International wrote in a report posted today. “Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets. The ensuing Russian strikes in populated areas have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure.”

“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”

Throughout their investigations, Amnesty researchers “found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions,” the report says. “The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab has analyzed satellite imagery to further corroborate some of these incidents.

“Most residential areas where soldiers located themselves were kilometers away from front lines. Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians—such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas. In the cases it documented, Amnesty International is not aware that the Ukrainian military who located themselves in civilian structures in residential areas asked or assisted civilians to evacuate nearby buildings—a failure to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians.

“Survivors and witnesses of Russian strikes in the Donbas, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv regions told Amnesty International researchers that the Ukrainian military had been operating near their homes around the time of the strikes, exposing the areas to retaliatory fire from Russian forces. Amnesty International researchers witnessed such conduct in numerous locations.”

This report is highly unusual in that, until now, Amnesty has been completely cohering with the official U.S./NATO line of Russia as an aggressor state violating the sovereignty of Ukraine and committing gross violations of human rights in the process. This new report, indeed, otherwise pays obeisance to that narrative. “In certain other locations in which Amnesty International concluded that Russia had committed war crimes, including in some areas of the city of Kharkiv, the organization did not find evidence of Ukrainian forces located in the civilian areas unlawfully targeted by the Russian military,” it says.

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