The Armed Forces of Ukraine are establishing military bases and placing military equipment in residential areas, thus endangering civilians. This is stated in the report published by the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday, August 4th. A press release from the organization emphasizes that such tactics violate international humanitarian law – but they do not justify indiscriminate strikes, including on civilian targetsinflicted by Russian troops.
In April-June, AI experts investigated for several weeks shelling of cities and villages by the RF Armed Forces in Kharkov, Donetsk and Nikolaev regions. Testimonies from local residents and analysis of satellite images showed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were based in residential areas in at least 19 settlements during the specified period, and fired from them Russian positions, thereby exposing local residents to return fire. At the same time, the experts found no signs that Ukrainian servicemen asked civilians to evacuate from these areas, or helped them in such an evacuation.
In five locations, Amnesty International staff documented the establishment of UAF bases in hospitals. In addition, the presence of Ukrainian soldiers was noted in 22 of the 29 schools they visited. In particular, we are talking about the placement of military equipment in these facilities. In Bakhmut, Ukrainian troops used the building of the local university as a base, from which the nearest residential buildings are only about 50 meters away. On May 21, the Russian Armed Forces attacked him, killing, according to the Ukrainian side, seven soldiers.
Russia unmotivated shelling of residential areas
At the same time, in many other cases, AI experts did not find any signs of the presence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in residential areas and objects on which Russian troops launched rocket and artillery strikes. Including such strikes were inflicted using internationally prohibited cluster munitions- which was recorded by human rights activists in Kharkov. In some cases, the RF Armed Forces struck with insufficiently accurate weapons, while in others their accuracy was sufficient to prevent unintentional hits on civilians.
Amnesty International called on both sides of the conflict to do everything possible so that civilians are not killed or injured during the hostilities. In particular, “the government of Ukraine should immediately make sure that it deploys its armed forces away from residential areas, or evacuates residents of such areas if military operations are carried out there,” said Agnès Calamar, secretary general of the international human rights organization.
According to a press release, AI transmitted its findings to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on July 29, but has not yet received a response from the department.