Civilians Targeted in the War in Ukraine

Both sides in the war in Ukraine accuse each other of attacks on civilians. Several groups fear that these attacks could increase.

People with flags of Ukraine

Photo: Robert T Bell

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Civiles en el blanco en la Guerra en Ucrania

The war in Ukraine has been raging for more than a year, and the death toll is over 60,000, with the United Nations recording more than 7,000 wounded civilians as of February 2023. For example, the UN warned that Russia summarily executed 77 civilians in its occupation of Ukraine. In addition, the High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced that torture was recorded against Ukrainian men, women, children, and older adults.

Recently, however, Russia accused Ukraine of terrorist attacks that left Russian civilians dead. These events could begin a cycle of indiscriminate violence against the unarmed population and exponentially increase the death toll.

You can also read: Is NATO Pushing Russia Further into a Corner?

Last July 16-17, Russia received an attack on the Crimean Bridge. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, this was carried out by drones and left two people dead and one injured. The Kremlin labeled the attack as a terrorist attack.

"One of the sections of the Crimean bridge was damaged due to a terrorist act committed by Ukrainian special services," the agency asserted in a statement. According to the committee, the fatalities were tourists.

From the Cereal Pact to Attacks on Civilians

The U.S. government warned that Russia was considering launching attacks on grain facilities and civilian ships in the Black Sea. Adam Hodge, a White House Security Council member, indicated that Russia had laid sea mines in Ukrainian ports.

In addition, according to U.S. intelligence, Moscow is reportedly seeking to blame Ukraine for these events. "We believe this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks on civilian ships in the Black Sea and to blame Ukraine for these attacks," Hodge said.

Cluster Bombs

In addition to terrorist attacks or executions of civilians, there is also a risk that both groups use: cluster bombs. On the one hand, Russia denounced that the United States was supplying cluster bombs to Ukraine and could also use this type of weapon. However, political scientist Jochen Kleinschmidt, a political expert, told France24 that Russia has already used these weapons against civilians.

These types of bombs are considered fragmentation bombs and have a 5% and 30% failure rate. This percentage evidences the risk that these bombs do not activate and end up buried, being a problem for the civilian population.

War Crimes

While it is known that attacks on civilians fall under what is considered war crimes. This is why denouncing Vladimir Putin for these events is being considered. In April last year, Joe Biden said that his Russian counterpart should be tried for the possible massacre that Russian troops carried out in Bucha.

However, beyond investigating the Russian leader, all parties and members of this war should be investigated and tried for possible attacks on civilians and other human rights violations. This would be how civilians could be protected in the future amid the conflict.

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