Amnesty International issued a report on Thursday accusing the Ukrainian military of stationing its troops and artillery near hospitals, schools and residential buildings in ways that endanger civilians may amount to war crimes.
The international human rights organization says it spent two months in Ukraine interviewing locals and collecting physical evidence to compile the report.
"Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas," the report states.
Amnesty International says that Ukrainian troops shelter alongside civilians far from active conflict zones, and that Russian rocket strikes on Ukrainian military positions have left several nearby civilians dead.
Donatella Rovera, the report's author, says that situations like these arise on all sides of any war, and that it's up to Ukrainians to address the concerns as soon as possible.
Ukrainian officials have claimed that their defensive posture against Russia justifies all tactics used so far, and that the report unfairly implicates Ukraine in war crimes. One top adviser to Ukraine's president even accused the human rights group of being Russian propagandists fostering disinformation.
The report notes that reports of Russia's use of illegal weapons in civilian areas — including cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines — should give Ukraine even more reason to keep its troops far away from civilians.
Rovera says that she understands Ukrainians are, in many ways, outgunned and outmatched, but that the credibility of Ukrainian's moral high ground requires a total adherence to international law — even if it puts its military at a tactical disadvantage.
Ukraine has criticised the report on the ground that it ignores Ukraine’s wartime realities and draws moral equivalence between Russia, the aggressor, and Ukraine, the victim.