‘Ukraine putting civilians at risk’, says Amnesty report; Zelensky hits back

Published on Aug 05, 2022 08:31 AM IST
  • In its report, Amnesty International said that being in a defensive position did not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky facing journalists during a visit to Black Sea port of Chornomorsk. (File)(AFP PHOTO / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service)
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky facing journalists during a visit to Black Sea port of Chornomorsk. (File)(AFP PHOTO / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service)

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday condemned Amnesty International for allegedly excusing Russian acts of "terror" and “shift responsibility” to the victims, as the rights group said Kyiv's forces were endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas. Amnesty tried to “amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”, Zelensky said during his daily address.

“There is no condition, even hypothetically, under which any Russian strike on Ukraine becomes justified. Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terrorist,” Zelensky said. “If someone makes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are supposedly equal in some way, if some data about the victim is analysed, and the aggressor's actions at the same time is ignored, then this cannot be tolerated,” he added.

Amnesty had listed incidents when Ukrainian forces appeared to have exposed civilians to danger in 19 towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.

It said in its report the tactics "in no way justify Russia's indiscriminate attacks", and some Russian "war crimes" including in the city of Kharkiv were not linked. “We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard said. “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”

The report stated that researchers witnessed Ukrainian forces using hospitals as “de facto military bases” in five locations, and in 22 schools.

Schools have been shut In Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia but were located in civilian neighbourhoods. "We have no say in what the military does, but we pay the price," the Amnesty report quoted a resident as saying.

Kyiv and Moscow have been at war since early this year as Russia continues its efforts to invade Ukraine.

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