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President’s Office responds to Amnesty International claim that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are endangering civilians

Thursday, 4 August 2022, 14:49
President’s Office responds to Amnesty International claim that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are endangering civilians


The human rights organisation Amnesty International has claimed that the Ukrainian forces which are holding back the Russian invasion are endangering the civilian population by establishing bases and storing weapons in schools and hospitals. The Office of the President has responded that the only threat to Ukrainians is the Russian army.

Source: report by Amnesty International; Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to the Head of the President’s Office, on Twitter; Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Facebook


Quote: "Ukraine’s tactics have violated international humanitarian law as they’ve turned civilian objects into military targets. The ensuing Russian strikes in populated areas have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure."

Details: Experts from Amnesty reportedly examined the sites of Russian attacks in Kharkiv and Mykolaiv Oblasts and in Donbas between April and July. They interviewed survivors and witnesses and analysed satellite images.

In the course of this research, the experts found "evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions."

According to the Amnesty International report, "Most residential areas where soldiers located themselves were miles away from front lines and viable alternatives were available that would not have endangered civilians - such as military bases, densely-wooded areas or other structures further from residential areas."

Amnesty International added that in the cases it documented, it was not aware that the Ukrainian military had asked or assisted civilians to evacuate from nearby buildings in order to minimise losses among the civilian population.

At 22 out of 29 schools visited in Donbas and Mykolaiv Oblast, Amnesty researchers found either Ukrainian soldiers using the premises or Ukrainian military equipment and weapons.

Quote from Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General: "Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law. Militaries should never use hospitals to engage in warfare and should only use schools or civilian homes as a last resort when there are no viable alternatives.

The Ukrainian government should immediately ensure that it locates its forces away from populated areas or should evacuate civilians from areas where the military is operating."

Details: Amnesty added that the Ukrainian military’s practice of locating military objectives within populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks.

The Office of the President has responded that the only threat to Ukrainians is the Russian army, and Amnesty International’s claims are nothing less than participation in Russia’s defamation campaign against Ukraine.

Quote from Podoliak: "Today Russia is making maximum efforts to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the eyes of Western societies and disrupt weapons supplies using its entire network of influence agents. It is a shame that an organisation like Amnesty International is participating in this disinformation and propaganda campaign."

Details: Podoliak also added that "the only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is the Russian army of executioners and rapists that came to Ukraine to commit genocide."

Podoliak stressed that Ukrainian soldiers are defending their nation and their families.

"People’s lives are the unconditional priority for Ukraine. That is why we are evacuating residents of frontline cities," Podoliak concluded.

Kuleba, for his part, said he is outraged by Amnesty’s claim and considers it unfair.

Quote from Kuleba: "This behaviour by Amnesty International is not about the search for truth and bringing this truth to the world. It is about creating a false balance between criminal and victim, between a country which is destroying thousands of civilians and whole cities, and a country which is desperately defending itself, saving its population and the whole continent from this onslaught.

Stop creating a fake reality where everyone’s a little guilty of something. Get on with telling the truth about what Russia today really is."

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