Amnesty International has claimed Ukrainian fighting tactics are “endangering civilians” in a new report.
Published on Thursday, the organisation released findings, witness statements and analysis claiming that “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas”.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said the report’s conclusions were “unfair” and that Amnesty had created “a false balance between the criminal and his victim”. He called on the organisation to stop “creating a fake reality in which everyone is a little guilty of something.”
Due to Ukrainian defensive positions, the organisation alleges that such “tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets” for Russian strikes.
Between April and July this year, Amnesty investigated the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.
Within these regions, the report claims that Ukrainian forces have set up missile launch areas in populated civilian areas and military bases in hospitals and schools.
Mykola who lives in Lysychansk, told the organisation: “I don’t understand why our military is firing from the cities and not from the field.”
Members of the team also allegedly found five military bases which had been established in hospitals, and 22 military camps in schools.
“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.”
Despite claiming that Ukrainian forces cannot be excused for their alleged use of civilian areas, Amnesty insisted that it does not justify Russia’s attacks in the country.
Commenting on the report, Ruth Dreyermond said on Twitter: “Can you explain how you expect the Ukrainian armed forces to defend Ukrainian cities from being captured by murderous invading forces if they have no presence and no weapons in those cities?”
Political commentator and journalist, Ian Dunt added: “You have completely lost your mind.”
According to the UN, as of July 31, 5,327 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded the country, a further 7,257 have been injured.
Amnesty International has been approached for comment.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “Russia’s illegal invasion and widespread violations of international humanitarian law, including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, is leading to the tragic loss of life in Ukraine.
“We will continue to support Ukraine against Russian aggression.”