The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the fighting in Ukraine. However, we have revealed new satellite imagery showing a build-up of Russian armour and artillery just inside the Ukrainian border.
Our evidence – including satellite imagery and eyewitness testimonies – shows that the fighting has burgeoned into an international armed conflict.
On 26 August 2014, the imagery shows artillery in firing positions facing southwest at Ukrainian army locations. The artillery was later moved into a west-facing firing position, and six armoured amphibious vehicles were also seen on 29 August.
‘Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations. All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations.’
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, who will be in Kiev and Moscow over the coming days
Civilians fleeing from the fighting have told us that Ukrainian government forces subjected their neighbourhoods to heavy shelling. Their testimonies suggest that the attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes.
Evidence of abductions, torture and killings by separatist fighters has also come to light.
Residents of Slovyansk told us that separatist fighters kidnapped a local pastor, two of his sons and two churchgoers. They demanded a US$50,000 ransom for their release. By the time the local community managed to collect the ransom, the captors had killed all of the men.
Abductions and beatings have also been carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces.
On 23 August a security guard in Oleksandrivka in the Luhansk region was seized by armed men who arrived in vehicles flying Ukrainian flags. At least one was marked ‘Battalion Aidar’ (a militia group operating in the Luhansk region).
Witnesses said his captors accused him of collaborating with separatists, beat him with rifle butts and held him incommunicado. His family were eventually informed that he was being held in a local office of Ukraine’s state security service.
What we want to see
We’re urging the Ukrainian authorities to conduct an effective investigation into allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and bring to justice individuals responsible for war crimes.
Commanders and civilian leaders who knew, or should have known, about the crimes and failed to prevent them or punish those responsible, could be prosecuted for war crimes.