Amnesty Int’l accuses Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv

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June 13 (UPI) — Amnesty International on Monday accused Russia of committing war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine, stating its military has used internationally banned cluster bombs and scatterable mines on populated residential areas.

The international human rights watch dog leveled the accusations against Russia in a new report focused on attacks targeting Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city that was home to 1.4 million prior to the war.

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The city, located near Ukraine’s northeastern border with Russia, came under attack when the Kremlin launched its invasion Feb. 24. It was bombarded for two months with artillery rounds and missiles, which were accompanied by a ground invasion with the aim to capture the city, an effort that Kyiv forces repelled in April.

According to the report, researchers documented at least seven cluster munitions strikes and 28 indiscriminate strikes on the city between the start of the war and April 30.

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The researchers were in the region for two weeks in April and May investigating strikes on the city, and documented evidence of repeated use of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster bombs and scatterable mines throughout the city.

Cluster munitions scatter large numbers of explosive submunitions known as bomblets over a wide area and cause indiscriminate damage, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Though Russia is not a signatory to relevant conventions that ban nations from the use of such weaponry, indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law.

“The repeated bombardments of residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv are indiscriminate attacks, which killed and injured hundreds of civilians, and as such constitute war crimes,” the 40-page report said. “This is true both for the strikes carried out using cluster as well as those conducted using other types of unguided rockets and unguided artillery shells, which are indiscriminate when used in the vicinity of concentrations of civilians.”

Evidence of the use of cluster munitions included fins, pellets and fragments used in such weaponry, some of which doctors removed from the bodies of victims, the report said.

The report documents an attack on Myru Street in the southeast of the city center on April 15 that resulted in at least nine dead and 35 injured, including children.

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The blast area was larger than 7,500-square-feet.

“Some of the victims were killed or injured in the courtyards between buildings, others in the surrounding streets and nearby parks,” it said.

The researchers also documented Russia’s use of scatterable mines, which the report says “combines the worst attributes of cluster munitions and of anti-personnel land mines.”

“The repeated use of widely banned cluster munitions is shocking and a further indication of utter disregard for civilians lives,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said in a statement. “The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and victims and their families must receive full reparations.”

The Kharkiv Regional Military Administration told Amnesty International that 606 civilians had been killed and 1,248 injured in the Kharkiv region between the start of the war and April 28. Kharkiv Oblast Oleh Syniehubov had announced mid-March that 600 residential buildings had also been destroyed.

According to United Nations data, at least 4,339 civilians have been killed amid the war and another 5,246 injured.

The report comes as war crime cases are being built against Russia and accusations that it has used cluster munitions amid its war.

Since the war began, allegations of war crimes have been repeatedly volleyed at Moscow, and in early March the International Criminal Court announced it launched an investigation into such crimes committed in Ukraine as far back as 2013.

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Ukraine as well as other nations with jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the country have also initiated similar investigations with the United States, Britain and the European Union forming a group of experts late last month to aid Kyiv’s efforts.

Early Monday, Kyiv’s prosecutor general’s office accused Russia of committing more than 17,100 crimes of aggression and war crimes during its war.