Sure the Jeff Bezo’s owned premiere mockingbird media outlet does it’s best to obfuscate but let’s read critically, okay? Keeping in mind that Ukraine has a very large ethnic Russian population. Speaking Russian. Practicing their own faith.
KYIV, Ukraine — The suspected Russian missile hit the tall apartment building, engulfing it in flames and smoke. It killed at least four people, including elderly residents, and shattered the lives of a close-knit community. For lawmaker Oleksii Goncharenko, the tragedy was yet another example of potential Russian war crimes.
“They are just hitting residential buildings in these areas,” said the Ukrainian parliament member, who arrived at the scene shortly after the explosion two weeks ago. “You can walk around, you will not find any military targets, or any military people. This is just terror.”
Except Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksii Goncharenko wasn’t being truthful
Yet a few minutes later, the whooshing sound of Ukrainian rockets fired from a multiple rocket launcher startled residents staring blankly at their destroyed homes. Then, another outgoing barrage. The weapons seemed to be nearby, perhaps a few streets away, certainly well inside the capital.
Increasingly, Ukrainians are confronting an uncomfortable truth: The military’s understandable impulse to defend against Russian attacks could be putting civilians in the crosshairs. Virtually every neighborhood in most cities has become militarized, some more than others, making them potential targets for Russian forces trying to take out Ukrainian defenses.
“I am very reluctant to suggest that Ukraine is responsible for civilian casualties, because Ukraine is fighting to defend its country from an aggressor,” said William Schabas, an international law professor at Middlesex University in London. “But to the extent that Ukraine brings the battlefield to the civilian neighborhoods, it increases the danger to civilians.”
“But to the extent that Ukraine brings the battlefield to the civilian neighborhoods, it increases the danger to civilians.”
Ukraine’s cities — and civilian areas — have become the crucible of the war, where an intense struggle is unfolding between Russians who want to seize or control these areas and Ukrainians defiantly resisting. That has transformed the conflict into a largely urban war, forged more by aerial weaponry and bombardments than traditional street-by-street fighting in many areas. With Russian forces targeting cities, the Ukrainians have responded by fortifying civilian areas to defend Kyiv, deploying air defense systems, heavy weaponry, soldiers and volunteers to patrol enclaves. Civilian casualties are mounting.
Ukraine’s strategy of placing heavy military equipment and other fortifications in civilian zones could weaken Western and Ukrainian efforts to hold Russia legally culpable for possible war crimes, said human rights activists and international humanitarian law experts. Last week, the Biden administration formally declared that Moscow has committed crimes against humanity.
“If there is military equipment there and [the Russians] are saying we are launching at this military equipment, it undermines an assertion that they are attacking intentionally civilian objects and civilians,” said Richard Weir, a researcher in Human Rights Watch’s crisis and conflict division, who is working in Ukraine.
Over the past month, Washington Post journalists have witnessed Ukrainian antitank rockets, antiaircraft guns and armored personnel carriers placed near apartment buildings. In one vacant lot, Post journalists spotted a truck carrying a Grad multiple rocket launcher. Checkpoints with armed men, barricades of sandbags and tires, and boxes of molotov cocktails are ubiquitous on city highways and residential streets. The sound of outgoing rockets and artillery can be heard constantly in Kyiv, the capital, the squiggly white trails of missiles visible in the sky.
Washington Post journalists cannot cleverly obfuscate that which is being born witness to.
The Ukrainian military has “a responsibility under international law” to remove their forces and equipment from civilian-populated areas, and if that is not possible, to move civilians out of those areas, Weir said.
“If they don’t do that, that is a violation of the laws of war,” he added. “Because what they are doing is they are putting civilians at risk. Because all that military equipment are legitimate targets.”
When asked if there was concern that Russian forces could view the residential apartments as a military target because of the fortifications out front, Kazarin agreed. “But I repeat: There are always some risks when you are trying to protect the city.”
Some simple solutions that came to my mind
- 1- Don’t set up weapons in urban areas
- 2- Don’t arm civilians
- 3- Don’t use civilians as human shields- let them go
- 4- Take the fight outside of built up urban areas
Even if Ukraine violates its responsibilities under international law, “that doesn’t mean Russia gets a pass to do whatever it wants,” Weir said. If civilians are killed near a military position or equipment, Russia still can be held responsible for a possible war crime if its attack was indiscriminate and disproportionate against the civilian population.
But the line between what constitutes a war crime becomes more blurred if residential neighborhoods are militarized and become battlefields where civilian deaths are inevitable.
“Ukraine cannot use civilian neighborhoods as ‘human shields,’” said Schabas, adding that he was not suggesting this is what is happening.-
But using civilians as human shields is exactly what is happening. And has been happening all along. Let’s stop dancing around reality here!
After every suspected Russian airstrike in the capital and elsewhere, the Ukrainians have dispatched teams to gather video and other evidence to use in a potential war crimes case against Russia at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, but many of those sites could be weak grounds for alleging war crimes.
“If there are military targets in the area, then it might undermine their claim that a specific strike was a war crime,” said Weir of Human Rights Watch.
Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers warn journalists not to take photos or video of military checkpoints, equipment, fortifications or impromptu bases inside the city to avoid alerting Russians to their locations. One Ukrainian blogger uploaded a TikTok post of a Ukrainian tank and other military vehicles positioned at a shopping mall. The mall was later destroyed March 20 in a Russian strike that killed eight people.
It’s been plenty obvious that the Ukrainian “defence forces” including the Ukrainazis have been happy to use those they consider as expendable, non essential subhumans to advance their goals.
Lastly. What’s going on in Ukraine didn’t need to happen. Diplomacy. Abiding by agreements already made. Could have made all the difference.