Rights activists from the Amnesty International non-governmental organization (NGO) said that they have collected information indicating the use by the Ukrainian Armed Forces of fighting tactics that endanger civilians and violate international humanitarian law, Interfax reports.
"We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas," Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnes Callamard said.
"Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law," Callamard was quoted as saying on the Amnesty International website.
"Throughout these investigations, researchers found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions," Amnesty International said, adding that some of these incidents are corroborated by satellite imagery.
According to the organization, Amnesty International researchers also witnessed Ukrainian forces using hospitals as de facto military bases in five locations. In a number of other cases, soldiers were resting in hospitals. In other cases, soldiers were firing from near the hospital.
"Using hospitals for military purposes is a clear violation of international humanitarian law," the organization said.
The NGO's representatives collected evidence that "the Ukrainian military has routinely set up bases in schools in towns and villages in Donbas and in the Mykolaiv area." At 22 out of 29 schools visited, Amnesty International researchers found soldiers using the school premises.
According to Ukrainian media outlets, the conclusions presented by Amnesty International have prompted a negative reaction from President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior officials of Ukraine.