Amnesty International said it “deeply regrets the distress and outrage” caused by Ukrainian forces after it was accused of violating international law by exposing civilians to Russian fire.
“We absolutely stand by our findings,” the rights group said on Sunday, but stressed that “anything we have documented does not in any way support Russian violations by the Ukrainian military.”
Anger erupted in Ukraine after Amnesty published a report on Thursday who accused the army of endangering civilians By setting up bases in schools and hospitals and launching counterattacks from heavily populated areas.
Head of Amnesty Ukraine The office resigned in protest, accusing the rights organization of Kremlin propaganda.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the group had tried to “shift responsibility from the aggressors to the victims”.
Amnesty’s report cited instances in which Ukrainian forces threatened civilians in 19 towns and villages in Kharkiv, Donbass and Mykolayiv regions.
In its statement on Sunday, the rights group refused to back down on that assessment.
“Instances were found of Ukrainian forces positioning themselves next to where civilians lived, potentially exposing them to Russian fire”.
“We based this assessment on the principles of international humanitarian law, which require all parties to a conflict to avoid locating military objectives in or near densely populated areas, to the maximum extent practicable,” it said.
Nevertheless, Amnesty recognized the scale of the reactions its report had provoked.
“Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and outrage caused by our press release about the fighting tactics of the Ukrainian military,” it said.
Since Russia’s invasion in February, Amnesty said it has interviewed hundreds of Ukrainian victims “whose stories highlight the brutal reality of Russia’s war of aggression”.
“We have challenged the world to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people through concrete action, and we will continue to do so.”