Amnesty International on Sunday apologized for the “suffering and anger” caused by a report it accused of putting Ukraine’s citizens at risk, angering President Volodymyr Zelensky and prompting the resignation of the head of the NGO’s Kyiv branch.
The human rights group released a report on Thursday that said the presence of Ukrainian troops in residential areas increased risks to civilians during the Russian invasion, Reuters reported.
“Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger caused by our press release on the war tactics of the Ukrainian military,” the organization said in an email to Reuters.
“Amnesty International*’s priority is to ensure that civilians are protected in any conflict. In fact, this was our sole objective when we published this latest research. While we fully stand by our decisions, we regret the pain caused.”
Zelensky was accused of trying to shift responsibility away from the Russian occupation, while Amnesty’s head for Ukraine, Oksana Pokalchuk, resigned, saying the report was a propaganda gift to Moscow.
Ukrainian officials say they are trying to evacuate civilians from frontline areas. Russia, which denies targeting civilians, has not commented on the human rights report.
In its email on Sunday, Amnesty said it found Ukrainian forces near civilian settlements in 19 towns and villages it visited, exposing them to the risk of Russian fire.
“Amnesty International believes that Ukrainian forces are responsible for violations committed by Russian forces or that the Ukrainian military did not take adequate precautions in other parts of the country,” the organization said.
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“We must be very clear: we do not document that Ukrainian forces are in any way justifying Russian aggression,” the NGO added.
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