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Russia carrying out ‘indiscriminate attacks’ on civilian areas in breach of international law, says Amnesty

‘Military has shown blatant disregard for civilian lives,’ group says

Laurie Churchman
Friday 25 February 2022 17:40 GMT
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Russian tank crushes Ukrainian car with civilian inside

Russia has violated international humanitarian law and may have committed war crimes in its invasion of Ukraine, according to Amnesty International.

The human rights organisation said the Russian military had launched indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, including strikes on hospitals.

Amnesty’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said: “The Russian military has shown a blatant disregard for civilian lives by using ballistic missiles and other explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas.

“Some of these attacks may be war crimes. The Russian government, which falsely claims to use only precision-guided weapons, should take responsibility for these acts.”

At least 57 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, according to the UK government’s latest figures.

Indiscriminate attacks can constitute war crimes.

Russian tank crushes Ukrainian car with civilian inside

Amnesty documented three such attacks carried out in the early hours of the invasion yesterday, saying it had gathered “irrefutable evidence” Russia broke international humanitarian and human rights law.

Four civilians were killed and 10 wounded in a ballistic missile strike near a hospital in Vuhledar, eastern Ukraine, at around 10.30am, the organisation said.

Two women and two men were reportedly killed, and six healthcare workers were among the injured.

Ukraine’s interior ministry has also confirmed the attack.

Amnesty inspected images from the scene and found a 9M79 Tochka ballistic missile was used.

It said weapons like these “should never be used in populated areas” because they are highly inaccurate and often miss their targets by a third of a mile or more.

In another attack, a man was reportedly killed and two women injured in the Kharkiv region, northeastern Ukraine.

Amnesty said Russian troops had likely been targeting the nearby Chuhuiv Air Base, but a single large missile or rocket struck a residential block at around 8am. There was extensive fire damage, and the strike left a crater between apartment buildings, it said.

Pictures of a woman wounded in the blast, her face covered in blood, appeared on newspaper front pages around the world.

Amnesty said a deadly strike that killed and injured civilians in a Chuhuiv apartment block violated international humanitarian law (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A man was also killed in an attack in Uman, central Ukraine, in a strike that also damaged a nearby restaurant around 7am, the group said.

Amnesty said the use of inaccurate weapons causing civilian deaths was “inexcusable”.

It called for an immediate end to the attacks, and an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly.

It said the Assembly should adopt a resolution “denouncing Russia’s unlawful attack” and end violations of humanitarian law and human rights.

“The lives, safety and well-being of millions of civilians is at stake,” the group warned.

Separately, Ukraine’s health minister accused Russian troops on Friday of firing on ambulances in the Zaporizhzhya and Chernihiv regions.

Viktor Lyashko told Ukrainian TV Russian forces had also opened fire in a psychiatric hospital in Chernihiv.

Russia’s defence ministry yesterday denied attacking Ukrainian cities and civilians, saying it was only targeting military sites.

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