Ukrainian military menace civilians

Ukrainian forces violate international law and endanger civilians by establishing bases in residential areas, including schools and hospitals, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The defenders’ tactics “in no way justify Russia’s indiscriminate attacks,” the rights group says in a new report, and some Russian “war crimes,” including in the city of Kharkiv, were unrelated to the tactics.

But Amnesty International listed cases where Ukrainian forces endangered civilians in 19 towns and villages in Kharkiv, Donbass and Mykolaiv regions.

“We have documented how Ukrainian forces put civilians at risk and violate the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Being on the defensive does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”

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The report said that residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers were based were miles from the front lines and “viable alternatives” were available that would not endanger civilians.

But it says the soldiers did not order civilians to leave the areas, despite hitting Russian forces, which fired back at them.

Amnesty researchers have seen Ukrainian forces use hospitals as “de facto military bases” at five locations and 22 schools.

Although the schools were closed during the conflict, they were located in residential areas.

“We don’t have a say in what the military does, but we pay the price,” one resident was quoted as saying.

The Ukrainian government has strongly opposed the report, saying that Amnesty International is in cahoots with Kremlin propagandists.

The Ukrainian armed forces are taking all measures to relocate civilians to safer areas, said Mykhailo Podolyak, chief aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is the (Russian) army of executioners and rapists coming to (Ukraine) to commit genocide,” he tweeted.

“Our defenders protect their people and families.”