Ukraine Puts Civilians in Harm’s Way, Report Says



Ukrainian forces have exposed civilians to Russian attacks at times by basing themselves in schools, residential buildings, and other places in populated areas, Amnesty International says in a report published Thursday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky angrily denounced the report, saying Amnesty International “tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim,” the AP reports. In his nightly video address, Zelensky told the organization, “If you provide manipulative reports, then you share the responsibility for the death of people with them.”

AP journalists reported seeing several scenes in recent weeks that mirrored the findings of Amnesty’s researchers, including the aftermath of weapon strikes in eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian fighters, their vehicles, or items such as ammunition were at attack sites. At two locations, the journalists were told a soldier or soldiers had been killed. At a third, per the AP, emergency workers blocked reporters from filming victims of a Russian strike on a residential building, which was unusual; local residents said military personnel had been staying there.

Amnesty International said its researchers, between April and July, “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 regions. Amnesty also said it found Ukrainian forces using hospitals as military bases in five places, in “a clear violation of international humanitarian law.” At the same time, the report’s authors stressed that the “Ukrainian military’s practice of locating military objectives within populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks.” Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly asked the remaining residents of the Donetsk region to evacuate, but starting anew elsewhere is difficult.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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