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Amnesty International Report Criticizes Ukrainian Forces for ‘Human Shields’


In a surprising report, Amnesty International has shifted its human rights scrutiny on Ukraine.

The Thursday report sparked massive criticism from both Western pundits and Kiev officials, as they called the report’s findings “unfair.”

The Amnesty report said investigators had “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 three war-torn regions of the country from April through July.

From Amnesty International:

The Ukrainian military has endangered Ukrainian civilians by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in residential areas – including in schools and hospitals – as it has sought to repel the Russian invasion, Amnesty International said today.

Ukraine’s tactics have violated international humanitarian law as they’ve turned civilian objects into military targets. The ensuing Russian strikes in populated areas have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure.

Not every Russian attack documented by Amnesty has followed this pattern. In certain locations in which Amnesty concluded that Russia had committed war crimes – including in some areas of the city of Kharkiv – Amnesty did not find evidence of Ukrainian forces located in civilian areas unlawfully targeted by the Russian military.

Between April and July, Amnesty researchers spent several weeks investigating Russian strikes in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions. Amnesty inspected strike sites, interviewed survivors, witnesses and relatives of victims of attacks, and carried out remote-sensing and weapons analysis. Throughout these investigations, Amnesty found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions. Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab analysed satellite imagery to further corroborate some of these incidents.

Most residential areas where soldiers located themselves were miles away from front lines and viable alternatives were available that would not have endangered civilians – such as military bases, densely-wooded areas or other structures further from residential areas. In the cases it documented, Amnesty is not aware that the Ukrainian military asked or assisted civilians to evacuate nearby buildings – a failure to take feasible precautions to protect civilians.

The mother of a 50-year-old man killed in a rocket attack on 10 June in a village south of Mykolaiv told Amnesty:

“The military were staying in a house next to our home and my son often took food to the soldiers. I begged him several times to stay away from there because I was afraid for his safety. That afternoon, when the strike happened, my son was in the courtyard of our home and I was in the house. He was killed on the spot. His body was ripped to shreds. Our home was partially destroyed.” 

Amnesty researchers found military equipment and uniforms at the house next door.

Mykola, who lives in a tower block in a neighbourhood of Lysychansk (Donbas) repeatedly struck by Russian attacks which killed at least one older man, told Amnesty, “I don’t understand why our military is firing from the cities and not from the field.” Another resident, a 50-year-old man, said, “There is definitely military activity in the neighbourhood. When there is outgoing fire, we hear incoming fire afterwards.” Amnesty researchers witnessed soldiers using a residential building some 20 yards from the entrance to an underground shelter used by the residents where the older man was killed.

Read the full Amnesty International report HERE.

“Naturally, that so respected a premier human rights organization based in the West condemned these practices of the Ukrainian army resulted in backlash from Kiev leaders, as well as some Western pundits who went so far as to level the usual “Putin-sympathizers!” charge…” Zero Hedge noted.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba blasted the Amnesty report, saying, “I understand that Amnesty will respond to criticism by saying that they criticize both sides of the conflict. But such behavior on Amnesty’s part is not about looking for the truth and presenting it to the world, but about creating a false balance between the criminal and his victim.”

Some commentators said the report resorted to “blaming the victim.”

Zero Hedge added:

The Kremlin, meanwhile, said the report confirms what Russia has been saying for a long time. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, “We’ve been talking about this constantly, calling the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces the tactics of using civilians as a ‘human shield’.”


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