By Barry Sheppard
The following is an addition to our earlier article: The Zelensky Regime: Not as Stable as the U.S. Claims
On August 4, Amnesty International released a report on its finding on the Ukrainian military embedding in civilian residential centers.
“Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way,” the report begins “by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, as they repelled the Russian invasion that began in February”.
“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….
“Between April and July, Amnesty International researchers spent several weeks investigating Russian strikes in Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions. The organization inspected strike sites; interviewed survivors, witnesses and relatives of victims of attacks; and carried out remote-sensing and weapons analysis….
“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. 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 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, Ukraine: Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians, August 4, 2022
The report did find areas where Russian strikes hit civilian areas that did not contain Ukrainian military, and described these incidents as war crimes. Amnesty has condemned Russian crimes in the war.
After the Amnesty International findings were published, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky issued an angry reply: “Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and, frankly, terroristic. And if someone prepares a report in which the victim and the aggressor are allegedly the same in some way, if some data about the victim is analyzed while something that the aggressor was doing at that time is ignored, then this cannot be tolerated.”
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General, replied, “We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operated in populated areas. Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
The report gave examples. One of which said, “While Amnesty International researchers were examining damage to residential and adjacent public buildings in Kharkiv and in villages in Donbas and east of Mykolaiv, they heard ongoing fire from Ukrainian military positions nearby.”