Monday, September 8, 2014

AI: Evidence of War Crimes & Russian Involvement
Amnesty International, the US-based human rights NGO, has uncovered mounting evidence of war crimes in eastern Ukraine as well as Russian involvement in them, according to its statement released on September 7.
Amnesty International accused Russia of fuelling what it called separatist crimes as it revealed satellite images indicating a build-up of Russian armor and artillery in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government, international organizations as well as NATO have offered similar evidence of not only Russia’s build up on Ukraine’s borders but also of Russian regular army’s invasion of Ukraine, abetting Russian mercenaries already battling Ukrainian armed forces.
“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 is expected to travel to Kyiv and Moscow in the coming days, said in the statement.
“Our evidence shows that Russia is fuelling the conflict, both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists in the East. Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations.”
Amnesty International said its researchers on the ground in eastern Ukraine have documented incidents of indiscriminate shelling, abductions, torture, and killings. 
The images offered by AI show new artillery positions being established just inside the Ukrainian border between 13 and 29 August, including what appear to be 122-mm Howitzer D-30 artillery units in firing positions pointed toward the west. Two of the positions have a support vehicle and what looks like bunkers. On 29 August, six armoured amphibious vehicles (likely BRDM-2s) can be seen.
Another similar artillery position can be seen in a field northeast of the first, also within Ukrainian territory. Imagery from 26 August 2014 shows six relatively advanced self-propelled howitzers (likely 2S19 Msta-S 152-mm) in firing positions facing southwest at Ukrainian army locations.
Between 26 and 29 August 2014 the artillery has been moved into a west facing firing position still within Ukraine. On August 29 the imagery shows what look like numerous military vehicles in the area along the tree line and in the neighboring field.
“These satellite images, coupled with reports of Russian troops captured inside Ukraine and eyewitness accounts of Russian troops and military vehicles rolling across the border, leave no doubt that this is now an international armed conflict,” said Shetty.
Amnesty International also said its researchers on the ground in eastern Ukraine interviewed eyewitnesses fleeing from fighting near Alechevsk, Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Krasny Luch, Lisichansk, Lugansk, Rubeznoe, Pervomaisk and Slovyansk. Researchers also interviewed Ukrainian refugees in the Rostov region of Russia.
Civilians from these areas told Amnesty International that the Ukrainian government forces subjected their neighbourhoods to heavy shelling. Their testimonies suggest that the attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes. Witnesses also said that separatist fighters abducted, tortured, and killed their neighbours.
In an illustrative incident, residents of Slovyansk told Amnesty International that separatist fighters kidnapped a local pastor, two of his sons and two churchgoers, and requested a $50,000 ransom for their release. By the time the local community managed to collect the requested ransom, the witnesses said, the captors had killed all of the men.  
Amnesty International has also received credible reports of abductions and beatings carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces.
“Civilians in Ukraine deserve protection and justice,” Salil Shetty said. “Without a thorough and independent investigation, there’s a real risk Ukrainians will harbour the scars of this war for generations.” 

Amnesty International is just the latest major organization to categorically state that Russia is perpetrating war crimes and abetting their commission in eastern Ukraine. Russia has been accused of this offense by Washington, OSCE, EU institutions and the United Nations, and Putin couldn’t care less. It’s as if he doesn’t care what the world thinks of him. He has a mission – to re-subjugate Ukraine and the other former captive nations – and nothing seems to be able to stay him from reaching his goal.