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Banned weapons in Ukraine

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Amnesty International denounces Russia’s use of banned weapons against civilians

  • They accuse it of indiscriminate shelling of residential districts of Kharkiv with imprecise weaponry.
  • AI officials recall that Russia is bound by international humanitarian law.

Russia’s indiscriminate use of banned weapons such as cluster bombs has killed hundreds of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, according to an investigation unveiled Monday by Amnesty International (AI).

In its report “Anyone can die at any time”, the organization accuses Russian troops of indiscriminately shelling residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv with rockets that by their nature have low accuracy in hitting particular targets.

AI investigators found evidence of repeated use of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster munitions, as well as scatterable mines, all of which are prohibited by international treaties.

“The population of Kharkiv has faced incessant indiscriminate shelling in recent months, which has killed and injured hundreds of civilians,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s general counsel on crisis response, said in a statement.

Rovera called the use of such weaponry “outrageous” and added that it evidences Russia’s “utter disregard” for civilian lives.

“The Russian forces responsible for these terrible attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and the victims and their families must receive full reparations,” the AI official said.

The shelling of Kharkiv began on February 24, at the same time as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although the Russian Army relented in mid-May in its attempts to control the city, where more than 1.5 million people lived at the start of the war.

Residential neighborhoods in the north and east of the city have been the hardest hit by the shelling.

According to the head of the medical department of the Kharkiv regional military administration, 606 civilians have been killed and 1,248 wounded since the beginning of the conflict in the Kharkov region.

Amnesty recalls that although Russia is not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, it is subject to international humanitarian law, which prohibits indiscriminate attacks.

Amnesty cites some examples of the use of such weaponry such as a bombing on the afternoon of April 15, when at least nine civilians were killed and 35 others injured, including several minors, by cluster munitions on Myru Street in the Industrialni neighborhood.

Doctors extracted metal fragments from the bodies of patients, including the characteristic pieces of steel rods contained in 9N210 and 9N235 cluster munitions.

The NGO recalls that unguided rockets – such as Grad and Uragan, used by Russian forces – have a margin of error of one hundred meters and “are inherently inaccurate, so their effects are indiscriminate when used in populated areas.”

Amnesty also recalls that Ukrainian forces often launch attacks from residential neighborhoods, endangering the civilian population in these areas.

“This practice violates international humanitarian law, but in no way justifies the repeated indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces,” the report said.

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