Kiev blasts Amnesty report on Ukraine risking civilian lives

The NGO’s accusation that Ukraine violates humanitarian law is “unfair,” Ukraine’s foreign minister said

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba pushed back against an Amnesty International report that blames Kiev for placing its military assets in schools and residential areas, violating humanitarian law and putting civilians at risk.

In his comments posted on social media on Thursday, the minister said that he was outraged by the NGO’s claim.

“I understand that Amnesty will respond to criticism by saying that they criticize both sides of the conflict. But such behavior on Amnesty’s part is not about looking for the truth and presenting it to the world, but about creating a false balance between the criminal and his victim”, he said.

Kuleba also urged the organization to stop “creating a fake reality” where everyone is “at fault for something.” Amnesty should primarily focus on what Russia is doing in Ukraine and what devastation Moscow has brought upon this country, he argued.

On Thursday, Amnesty released a report accusing Kiev of “a clear violation of international humanitarian law,” saying it was putting civilian lives at risk by placing its military close to civilian infrastructure. 

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Workers at a destroyed kindergarten by artillery attacks in a residential area in Kyiv. © Ceng Shou Yi / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Ukrainian forces ‘put civilians at risk’ – Amnesty

In 22 out of the 29 schools visited by Amnesty between April and July, the human rights group said it found evidence of current or prior military activity. In five locations, they witnessed Ukrainian troops using hospitals as bases. At the same time, the group said it was “not aware” that Ukraine tried to evacuate civilians from the areas in question.

However, Amnesty also noted that no Ukrainian troops were present in some areas where it assessed Russian forces had delivered strikes on residential areas. For that reason, the NGO said that Ukraine’s unlawful military use of civilian objects did not “in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks.”

According to Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, the NGO’s report only confirmed what Moscow has known for a long time. “We’ve been talking about this constantly, calling the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces the tactics of using civilians as a ‘human shield’,” Zakharova said.