NewsEuropeAI Report Says Ukrainian Military Tactics Endanger Civilians

    AI Report Says Ukrainian Military Tactics Endanger Civilians

    The NGO Amnesty International has accused the Ukrainian Army of carrying out forms of combat that endanger civilians, such as establishing military bases in residential areas, hospitals and schools. The organization has evidence of their complaints. The Ukrainian presidency responded that preserving lives is its “absolute priority”. And Moscow, of which there is also evidence of doing the same, boasts that this had already been warned from the Kremlin.

    The organization Amnesty International (AI) published this Thursday, August 4, a report in which it indicates that the Ukrainian forces have exposed civilians to Russian attacks by basing themselves, on occasions, in schools, residential buildings and other places in populated areas from where operate their weapons systems.

    These tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians by turning civilian objects into military targets, the report says.

    AI points out that “Ukrainian forces put the civilian population at risk (…) including in schools and hospitals, to repel the Russian invasion that began in February.”

    “We have documented a scenario in which Ukrainian forces put the civilian population in danger and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, secretary general of the non-governmental organization.

    “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian armed forces from respecting international humanitarian law,” he says.

    In the report, Amnesty International reveals that its investigators between April and July “found evidence that Ukrainian forces launched attacks from populated residential areas, and that they had established themselves in civilian buildings in 19 cities and towns” in three regions of the country.

    In addition to the statements of witnesses, survivors and relatives of the victims, Amnesty International relied on satellite images analyzed by the same organization’s Evidence Lab to further corroborate some of these incidents, in addition to the analysis of weapons. His investigators heard salient gunfire from nearby Ukrainian positions while examining damaged residential areas in the Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Donbass regions.

    The mother of a man killed in a rocket attack in a village near Mykolaiv told AI investigators that Ukrainian forces had stayed in a house next to hers. Investigators found military uniforms and equipment there, according to the report.

    Ukrainian soldiers stand in front of a five-story residential building damaged by a rocket attack in a residential area, in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. © Nariman El-Mofty / AP

    Hospitals and schools also serve as military bases, says AI report

    During the investigation, Ukrainian forces were also found using hospitals as military bases in five locations, which the human rights group called “a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

    The report stresses that “international humanitarian law requires parties to a conflict to avoid locating, to the greatest extent possible, military targets within or near densely populated areas.”

    The document adds that “there were viable alternatives that would not endanger civilians, such as nearby military bases or heavily wooded areas, or other structures further away from residential areas.”

    At the same time, the researchers stressed that “the practice of the Ukrainian Army to locate military targets within populated areas does not in any way justify Russia’s indiscriminate attacks.”

    Ukrainian soldiers have also routinely based themselves in schools, Amnesty said. Although Ukraine’s schools have been closed since the Russian invasion, most are near residential neighborhoods. Investigators from the human rights group found soldiers or evidence of military activity in 22 of the 29 schools visited.

    The evidence provided by the Associated Press (AP) with its journalists on the ground

    Ukrainian authorities have asked the remaining residents of the Donetsk region to evacuate, but starting over elsewhere is not so easy.

    Tens of thousands of people who fled their homes since Russia’s invasion have returned after running out of support.

    AP journalist reported last week that an evacuee was killed in a missile attack two days after returning to his home in the city of Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region.

    “Neighbors expressed their anger that the Ukrainian fighters had established a base in their residential area on the outskirts of the city. As the AP journalists looked at the missile crater, a uniformed fighter approached and questioned his presence, ”reveals the agency.

    Another case reported by the Associated Press is in the city of Kramatorsk. Residents there said after an attack in a residential area “that the soldiers had stayed there”. The AP “saw soldiers going in and out of a Kramatorsk apartment building.”

    And in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, the AP “saw soldiers and military vehicles at a university that was attacked. Soldiers and supplies were also present at a school for the disabled where a Russian attack left two craters in the school’s courtyard.”

    Ukraine’s response to AI’s report

    The advisor to the Ukrainian presidency, Mijailo Podolyak, responded to the criticism and defended that “preserving the life and health of all citizens” is his “absolute priority” in the context of the war. He also accused the group on Twitter of participating in Moscow’s “disinformation and propaganda campaign” to discredit Ukraine’s armed forces.

    For his part, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba declared the report “unfair” and expressed his “outrage” about it.

    “Such AI behavior is not about seeking the truth and bringing it to the world, it is about creating a false balance between a criminal and a victim, between a country that is annihilating civilian populations by the hundreds and thousands, (is destroying) cities and areas , and a country desperately defending itself, saving its people and the continent from this invasion,” Kuleba said.

    Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also chimed in with a social media post. “Any attempt to casually equate Russia’s unprovoked aggression and Ukraine’s self-defense, as is done in Amnesty International’s report, is evidence of loss of fitness and a way to destroy authority,” Reznikov wrote.

    Russia’s reaction to the NGO report

    Russia and pro-Kremlin media on Thursday widely cited the AI ​​report, the findings of which align somewhat with Moscow’s official narrative. Russia has justified attacks on civilian areas by claiming that Ukrainian fighters are setting up firing positions from there.

    “We are talking about it all the time, calling the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces as the tactic of using the civilian population as a human shield,'” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote about the report. .

    However, Russia has also done the same as AI has denounced in past reports and a separate report from July by Human Rights Watch that identified four occasions when Russian forces established military bases in populated areas of Ukraine.

    With report from AI, AP and EFE

    Source: France 24

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