"Warriors, leave": what's wrong with the Amnesty International statement?

August 05, 2022

Accusation of both sides is very convenient for the Russian narratives

The statement of Amnesty International dated August 4 saying that the Ukrainian military stationed near civilian facilities allegedly endangered civilians caused a wave of indignation not only among the Ukrainian military, but also within the human rights community. "Being on the defensive does not release the Ukrainian military from compliance with the international humanitarian law," the international organisation said. Amnesty International, and especially its central office in London, has no experience to assess the circumstances, and therefore, does not take into account the context of the ongoing war, Ukrainian human rights champions claim.

This report brings to mind the expression "useful idiots", despite all respect for the international organisation, says Oleksiy Melnyk, co-director of foreign policy and international security programmes at Razumkov Center.

"I have read their statement very attentively, and if you consider it out of context, what they are doing is really important. There are international rules of war, and they have recorded certain facts. But there is another point – the way they presented this information. Their wording is very convenient for the Russian narratives. It’s like both sides are guilty, both sides are in violation. This is true not only for the Amnesty. Similar misinterpretation was also characteristic of the OSCE SMM when it started its work in the east of Ukraine. You can see the same approach in the statements of the UN, IAEA, etc. – they appeal to both sides of the conflict," Mr. Melnyk says.

However, in his opinion, in the conditions of an aggression, calls upon both sides to refrain from violence look illogical, as this ideal model does not work.

"It’s a pity they did not wait for the answer from our General Staff. If we look at the Donetsk agglomeration, where should the troops be stationed? Somewhere in the open? But these are hundreds of lives of servicemen, who are also citizens of Ukraine. So, it’s a very important issue, which respectable organisations should take into account before coming out with such "sensational" materials. I'm afraid that another problem may be presented by the lack of practical experience among researchers, as well as the ability, and perhaps the desire, to delve into the realities of the conflict," the expert suggests.

Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

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