JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) – Russia’s assault on Ukraine is similar to its actions in the Syrian war, Amnesty International said Tuesday, raising concerns of “war crimes” as the civilian toll grows a month after Moscow’s invasion.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria,” Agnes Callamard, secretary general of the global rights watchdog, told AFP.
She was speaking in Johannesburg at the launch of the group’s annual report on the state of human rights in the world.
“We are in the midst of deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure,” she said, accusing Russia of turning humanitarian corridors into “death traps”.
“We see the same thing (in Ukraine), just as Russia did in Syria”.
Amnesty’s director in Eastern Europe and Asia, Marie Struthers concurred, telling a separate briefing in Paris that researchers in Ukraine had “documented the use of the same tactics as in Syria and Chechnya, including attacks on civilians and the use of arms prohibited under international law.
Comparing the besieged city of Mariupol, to Syrian city of Aleppo, bludgeoned by President Bashar al-Assad, with the help of Russian airpower, Callamard said the rights lobby group’s “observation at this point, is a rise in war crimes,” she said.
The US government last week said public information and intelligence it has collected amounts to strong evidence that the Russian military has committed war crimes in Ukraine.
A senior Ukrainian official told AFP Monday that around 5,000 people have been buried in Mariupol alone.
Russia was the main backer of the Syrian governments in the war that erupted in March 2011.
Callamard blamed Russia’s “insolence” on a “paralysed international system” and the “shameful inaction” of institutions including the UN Security Council.
“The UN Security Council would be more aptly named the UN Insecurity Council,” she said, adding it had repeatedly failed to act “adequately in the face of atrocities” in such places as Myanmar, Afghanistan and Syria.
© Agence France-Presse