The head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine section resigned on Friday after the human rights organization released a report that claimed Ukrainian forces endangered civilians by setting up camp in populated areas.
In a Facebook post on Friday night, Oksana Pokalchuk accused Amnesty International of not acknowledging the realities of the war in Ukraine and ignoring the advice of local staff members, who urged the group to review their report.
“It is painful to admit, but Amnesty International leaders and I have been divided over values,” Pokalchuk wrote. “I believe that any work done for the good of society must take into account the local context and think about the consequences.”
The report, which drew the ire of senior Ukrainian officials and Western scholars of international and military lawit alleged that Ukrainian forces have violated international humanitarian law by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in schools, hospitals and other populated areas.
“We have documented a pattern in which Ukrainian forces endanger civilians and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in the report. “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from respecting international humanitarian law.”
Pokalchuk claimed that because the Ukrainian Defense Ministry did not have adequate time to respond to the report’s findings, the report had become a “Russian propaganda tool”. Russian forces have justified attacks on civilian areas by suggesting that Ukrainian fighters set up firing positions at targeted locations.
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►Ukrainian military personnel are strengthening their positions around the eastern city of Sloviansk in anticipation of a new Russian attempt to seize the strategic point in the fiercely disputed Donetsk region.
►The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in an assessment Friday that Russian forces had increasingly transferred personnel and equipment from Donbas to southern Ukraine to push back a Ukrainian counteroffensive. around the occupied port city of Kherson. .
Russia launches assault on two cities in eastern Ukraine
Russian forces began an assault Saturday on two key cities in the eastern Donetsk region and kept up rocket attacks and shelling on other Ukrainian cities, including one near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, military and local officials said. from Ukraine.
Both towns, Bakhmut and Avdiivka, had been seen as key targets of Russia’s ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine, with analysts saying Moscow needs to take Bakhmut if it wants to advance into the regional hubs of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
Russian shelling killed five civilians and injured 14 others in the Donetsk region on the last day, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday. The governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said three civilians were injured after Russian rockets landed on a residential neighborhood in Nikopol.
Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of power plant attack
Russia and Ukraine blamed each other on Friday for the bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom said in a statement Friday that Russian forces fired on the plant and “created a humanitarian disaster in the city.” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his late-night speech on Friday also blamed Russia, suggesting the attack should be cause for escalation. sanctions to the country.
“This is the largest nuclear power plant on our continent. And any bombing of this facility is an open and brazen crime, an act of terror,” Zelenskyy said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the attack was the work of Ukraine.
“Fortunately, the Ukrainian shells missed the oil and fuel facility and the nearby oxygen plant, thus preventing a larger fire and possible radiation accident,” a ministry statement said, according to Reuters.
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War is approaching a ‘new phase’, UK Ministry of Defense says
the The UK Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russia’s war in Ukraine is approaching a “new phase” as heavy fighting moves to the Dnieper River between Zaporizhzhya and Kherson.
The ministry said Russian forces are moving southwest, away from Ukraine’s Donbas region, “almost certainly” in anticipation of a counteroffensive or possible assault by Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces have focused their targets on bridges, ammunition depots and rail links, with “increasing frequency” in the southern regions of Ukraine, the ministry said.
Grain shipments from Ukraine offer hope and solution to food crisis
A ship carrying corn to the port of Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, would normally not cause a stir. But it is attracting attention because of its origin: the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea.
The Razoni, loaded with more than 26,000 tons of corn for chicken feed, is emerging from the fringes of a Russian war that has threatened food supplies in countries like Lebanon, which has the world’s highest rate of food inflation, a staggering 122%, and relies on the Black Sea region for almost all of its wheat.
The fighting has trapped 20 million tons of grain inside Ukraine, and Razoni’s departure on Monday marked an important first step in extracting those food supplies and bringing them to farms and bakeries to feed millions of impoverished people starving in Ukraine. Africa and the Middle East. and parts of Asia.
“Actually, looking at shipping movement is a big deal,” said Jonathan Haines, a senior analyst at data and analytics firm Gro Intelligence. “These 26,000 tons on the scale of the 20 million tons that are locked up is nothing, absolutely nothing … but if we start to see this, every shipment that goes is going to increase confidence.”
Contributing: Associated Press