Ukraine Condemns Group's Report Alleging Forces Put Civilians in Danger

Ukraine has condemned an Amnesty International report that accuses the country of violating international law and endangering civilians during its ongoing war with Russia.

The Ukrainian military allegedly committed war crimes by placing bases and weapons in civilian-occupied residential areas, according to an Amnesty International report that was released on Wednesday following a three-month investigation into Russian attacks in Ukraine. The international humanitarian organization has also accused Russia of war crimes and said that the allegations against Ukraine "in no way justify Russia's indiscriminate attacks."

The findings were disputed and condemned on Thursday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, both of whom said that the report was an attempt to undermine Ukraine's ability to defend itself against the "terrorist state" of Russia.

Ukraine Denounces Amnesty International War Crimes Report
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Amnesty International's report alleging Ukrainian war crimes an attempt "to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim." Zelensky is pictured during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 28, 2022. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty

Zelensky cited an attack on residential buildings by "Russian terrorists" in the Donetsk region in a televised address on Thursday, which he said killed eight people, before accusing Amnesty International of being in favor of "amnesty" for Russia and attempting to shift blame "from the aggressor to the victim."

"We do not see clear and timely reports from some international organizations regarding this and thousands of other crimes committed by Russian terrorists," Zelensky said. "We saw today a completely different report from Amnesty International, which unfortunately tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim."

"Anyone who amnesties Russia and who artificially creates such an informational context that some attacks by terrorists are supposedly justified or supposedly understandable, cannot but realize that it helps the terrorists," he continued. "And if you provide manipulative reports, then you share the responsibility for the death of people with them."

Reznikov drew on his background as a lawyer while asserting in a statement that Ukraine had a legal right "to resist genocide," regardless of "what legal structures disguise it." The defense minister argued that the Amnesty International report was an attempt to "casually equate unprovoked Russian aggression with Ukrainian self-defense."

"Any attempt to even casually equate unprovoked Russian aggression with Ukrainian self-defense, as done in the Amnesty International article, is evidence of a loss of adequacy and a way to destroy one's authority," Reznikov said.

"Ukraine is a legal state," he added. "We comprehensively analyze and give an assessment, including a legal one, of events in the war, as required by our obligations. But we will not allow our army, our DEFENDERS, to be spoiled. I am speaking as a lawyer."

Neither Zelensky nor Reznikov directly addressed any of Amnesty International's specific allegations.

In what was called "a clear violation of international humanitarian law," the organization said that Ukraine maintained at least five military bases in civilian hospitals between April and July. Ukraine was also accused of installing military bases in 22 out of 29 schools in the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions that were visited by Amnesty International during the investigation.

Some of the buildings that were allegedly used as bases by the Ukrainian military were later attacked by Russia, resulting in civilian casualties. Following the destruction of schools in at least three towns, Ukraine's military moved the bases to schools in different areas, according to the report.

In some instances, the laws of war dictate that schools and hospitals can become legitimate targets for military attacks, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law," Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement. "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."

Newsweek reached out to Amnesty International for comment.