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Ukraine: fears for civilians amid likely indiscriminate Russian attacks

A man outside his destroyed building after airstrikes on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv earlier today © AFP via Getty Images

Multi-pronged Russian assault seems highly likely to result in civilian casualties 

Video footage showing remnants of Russian rocket sticking out of a pavement in Kharkiv underscores risk to civilians 

‘Our worst fears have been realised’ - Agnès Callamard

Amnesty International has expressed fears for human rights and for the safety of civilians in the wake of Russia’s multi-pronged military attack on Ukraine this morning.  

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: 

“Our worst fears have been realised. 

“As bombs and rockets are falling on Ukrainian military bases, and the first reports are coming in of the use of indiscriminate weapons by the Russian army, Amnesty International reiterates its call on all parties to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

“Civilian lives, homes and infrastructure must be protected. Indiscriminate attacks and the use of prohibited weapons such as cluster munitions must not take place. 

“We also repeat our call to allow and facilitate access for humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to civilians affected by the hostilities. 

“Amnesty will be monitoring the situation closely to expose violations of international law by all parties.” 

Heavy shelling

Expanded armed conflict between the two countries erupted early this morning with the Russian army subjecting Ukrainian military and air bases to heavy shelling, rocket artillery and missile attacks. Meanwhile, tank columns invaded Ukraine’s territory along the entire length of the border.

There are reports of Russian troops crossing the border to the north and south, and explosions in multiple cities - including the capital Kyiv. Video footage in Kharkiv shows the tail section of a rocket fired from a Smerch heavy multiple-rocket launcher left sticking out of the pavement. Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property, and indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians, constitute war crimes.

Amnesty has previously warned of the devastating risks to human rights of further armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine - including threats to civilian lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and potential acute food shortages and mass people displacement. Amnesty has previously documented the severe human rights toll of the 2014-15 conflict in eastern Ukraine, in which war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed. 

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