Volodymyr Zelenskyy responds to Amnesty claims that Ukraine ‘puts civilians at risk’

Ukrainian forces are violating international law and endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas, including schools and hospitals, Amnesty International said on Thursday, prompting a furious response from Kyiv.
Kyiv said the rights group was drawing a “false equivalence” between the actions of the invading Russian forces and Ukrainians defending their homeland.

Amnesty had tried “to grant amnesty to the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday in his daily address.

“There is no condition, even hypothetical, under which any Russian strike on Ukraine becomes justified. The aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terrorist.
“If someone makes a report in which the victim and the perpetrator are supposed to be equal in some way, if some data about the victim is analyzed and the actions of the perpetrator are ignored at the same time, it does not can be tolerated,” he added.
Amnesty said in its report that the tactics “in no way justify Russia’s indiscriminate attacks”, and that some Russian “war crimes”, notably in the city of Kharkiv, were unrelated.
But he listed incidents in which Ukrainian forces appeared to have exposed civilians to danger in 19 towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donbass and Mykolaiv regions.
“We have documented a tendency for Ukrainian forces to endanger civilians and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” Amnesty Secretary General Agnes Callamard said.

“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from respecting international humanitarian law.”

The residential areas where the Ukrainian soldiers were based were miles from the front lines, and “viable alternatives” were available that would not endanger civilians, the report said.
But he said soldiers did not tell civilians to evacuate the areas, despite launching strikes on Russian forces that left them exposed to retaliatory fire.
Amnesty researchers witnessed Ukrainian forces using hospitals as “de facto military bases” in five locations and 22 schools.
Although the schools were closed during the conflict, they were located in civilian neighborhoods.

“We don’t have a say in what the army does, but we pay the price,” said a resident quoted by the report.

The Ukrainian government strongly pushed back against the report, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calling the allegations “unfair”.
“This behavior by Amnesty International is not about uncovering and bringing the truth to the world, it is about creating a false equivalence – between the aggressor and the victim, between the country that is destroying hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories and a country desperately defending itself,” he said.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called the report a “perversion” because he said it called into question the right of Ukrainians to defend their country.
Senior presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak insisted that the Ukrainian armed forces take all necessary measures to move civilians to safer areas and suggested that Amnesty was complicit in spreading Kremlin disinformation.

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