Amnesty International stated on Monday that Russia's repeated bombing of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with cluster munitions and scatterable land mines constitutes a war crime that has killed hundreds of people.
Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, was subjected to near-constant shelling from the commencement of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 until Ukrainian forces expelled the Russians in May. According to Ukraine, 606 civilians were killed, and 600,000 were evacuated.
During a 14-day investigation in April and early May, Amnesty found evidence that Russia employed cluster munitions and scatterable mines near Kharkiv.
Amnesty International stated in a report that the repeated bombardments of residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv were indiscriminate attacks that resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of people and, as such, constituted war crimes.
The Russian Ministry of Defense declined Reuters' request for comment on the Amnesty report. Russia has denied targeting civilians in the past and accused Ukraine of fabricating proof of war crimes.
Russia and Ukraine are not parties to an international agreement against cluster bombs. Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, a research consultant for Amnesty International, told Reuters that using such weapons is still a war crime if it kills or hurts civilians without discrimination.
As an illustration, he referenced an attack with cluster munitions on a playground on Kharkiv's Mira Street, which he said killed nine and injured thirty-five.
Gallopin stated that Amnesty International had also determined that Ukrainian forces had violated international humanitarian law by positioning artillery near residential buildings, thereby drawing Russian fire. However, he stated this "in no way justifies the relentless, indiscriminate shelling of the city by Russian forces."
The Ukrainian defense ministry was not immediately accessible for comment.