The Ukrainian government has slammed a report by Amnesty International, which has accused Kiev of putting civilians at risk by stationing troops in residential areas.
“This behavior of Amnesty International is not about finding and reporting the truth to the world, it is about creating a false equivalence between the offender and the victim, between the country that destroys hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories, and a country that is desperately defending itself,” Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.
According to the Amnesty report, Ukrainian forces are violating international law and endangering civilians by establishing bases in schools and hospitals.
The group listed dozens of incidents when Ukrainian forces exposed civilians to danger in 19 towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.
“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” its secretary general Agnes Callamard said.
Callamard stressed the importance of following the international laws and warned that “being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
The report said residential areas, where the Ukrainian military is using as a shield, are based miles away from frontlines, and “viable alternatives” are available that will not put the civilians’ life at risk.
The damning report also said the Ukrainian forces had failed to announce civilians to evacuate the areas, while launching strikes on Russian forces which exposed them to retaliatory fire.
Ukrainian forces were also alleged to be utilizing hospitals as “de facto military bases” in five locations, and in 22 schools in civilian neighborhoods.
“We have no say in what the military does, but we pay the price,” the report quoted one resident as saying.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called the report a “perversion”, saying it questioned the right of Ukrainians to defend their country.
Top presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak also rejected the accusations, insisting that Ukraine’s armed forces moved civilians to safer areas. He also accused Amnesty of being complicit with the Kremlin in spreading disinformation.
In a damning report last month, Press TV’s correspondent Johnny Miller revealed that the Ukrainian army has been shelling civilians in the eastern part of the country, while accusing the Russian army of atrocities.
“The uncomfortable truth is that Ukraine is killing civilians, indeed its own civilians, as it has been doing so for the last eight years,” said Miller, who traveled to the Petrovsky district near the frontline in Donetsk to investigate the incidents.