Increasingly, Ukrainians are confronting an uncomfortable truth: Ukraine’s military could be putting civilians in the crosshairs.
Virtually every neighborhood in most cities are currently militarized, some more than others, making them potential targets for Russian forces trying to take out Ukrainian defenses.
“I am very reluctant to suggest that Ukraine is responsible for civilian casualties, because Ukraine is fighting to defend its country from an aggressor,” said William Schabas, an international law professor at Middlesex University in London. “But to the extent that Ukraine brings the battlefield to the civilian neighborhoods, it increases the danger to civilians.”
The military has been fortifying civilian areas to defend Kyiv, deploying air defense systems, heavy weaponry, soldiers and volunteers to patrol enclaves. Civilian casualties are mounting.
Ukraine’s strategy of placing heavy military equipment and other fortifications in civilian zones could weaken Western and Ukrainian efforts to hold Russia legally culpable for possible war crimes, said human rights activists and international humanitarian law experts.