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Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv calls Amnesty report that says Ukrainian forces are putting civilians at risk a ‘perversion’ – as it happened


Kyiv calls Amnesty report that says Ukrainian forces are endangering citizens ‘unfair’ and a ‘perversion’

Ukraine has slammed a report by Amnesty International (See 13:56) which found that Ukrainian forces are endangering civilians as “unfair” and a “perversion”.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says in a video posted on Facebook:

This behaviour of Amnesty International is not about finding and reporting the truth to the world, it is about creating a false equivalence – between the offender and the victim, between the country that destroys hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories, and a country that is desperately defending itself.

Top presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak insisted Ukraine’s armed forces take all measures to move civilians to safer areas and suggested Amnesty was complicit in spreading Kremlin disinformation.

He tweeted:

The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is (Russian) army of executioners and rapists coming to (Ukraine) to commit genocide.

The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is 🇷🇺 army of executioners and rapists coming to 🇺🇦 to commit genocide. Our defenders protect their nation and families. People’s lives are the priority for Ukraine, that is why we are evacuating residents of front-line cities. 1/2

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 4, 2022

Today, Moscow tries to discredit the Armed Forces of 🇺🇦 in the eyes of Western societies and disrupt weapons supply using the entire network of influence agents. It is a shame that the organization like @amnesty is participating in this disinformation and propaganda campaign. 2/2

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 4, 2022

Meanwhile, defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov called the report a “perversion” as he said it questioned the right of Ukrainians to defend their country.

Key events

End of day summary

Here is the latest from our live coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

  • Eight people have been killed and four have been wounded in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk in Donetsk oblast on Thursday, the regional governor has said. The shelling hit a public transport stop where people had gathered, the governor for the area, Pavlo Kyrylenko, wrote on Telegram. Three children were among the wounded, he said.
  • The UN is conducting a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine after 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed in an explosion at a barracks in separatist-controlled Olenivka. The warring nations have accused each other of carrying out the attack. Ukraine claims it was a special operation plotted in advance by the Kremlin, and carried out by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group. Russia’s defence ministry, however, claims the Ukrainian military used US-supplied rockets to strike the prison.
  • A US official accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, which Russia said took place overnight on 29 July.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wants to talk directly to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in the hope China can use its influence with Russia to bring the war to an end. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, Zelenskiy said: “It’s a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy. So [it] can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is [also a] permanent member of the UN security council.” So far, China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and Xi Jinping told Putin it would support Russia’s “sovereignty and security”.
  • Amnesty International has said the Ukrainian army is endangering the life of civilians by basing itself in residential areas, in a report rejected by Ukrainian government representatives as placing blame on it for Russia’s invasion. The human rights group’s researchers found that Ukrainian forces were using some schools and hospitals as bases, firing near houses and sometimes living in residential flats. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, accused Amnesty of “distorting the real picture”.
  • A Moscow court has convicted the US basketball player Brittney Griner on drug charges, sentencing her to nine years in prison and a 1m rouble fine in a politically charged verdict that could lead to a prisoner swap with the United States. Griner, a basketball talent who played in Russia during off-seasons from the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested for cannabis possession in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February.
  • The US Senate has ratified Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato, voting 95-1 in support. The US is the 23rd member state to ratify what would be the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato, and to ensuring our alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the president, Joe Biden, said in a statement. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession before Finland and Sweden can become members.
  • Ukraine is pulling out its 40 peacekeepers from the Nato-led mission in Kosovo, which totals 3,800 members, according to Ukrainian news. In March, Zelenskiy issued a decree for all missions to return to Ukraine to support the war.
  • The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has again appealed for access to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant now controlled by Russian forces to determine whether it was a source of danger. Contact with the Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which is at Zaporizhzhia and is being operated by Ukrainian technicians under occupation, was “fragile” and communications did not function every day, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head, Rafael Grossi, told a Swiss newspaper.
  • The first shipment of grain to leave Ukraine under a deal to ease Russia’s naval blockade has reached Turkey. The Sierra Leone-registered ship Razoni set sail from Odesa port for Lebanon on Monday under an accord brokered by Turkey and the UN. The ship has been inspected by members of the joint coordination centre, and is now expected to move through the Bosphorus Strait “shortly”.
  • Ukraine failed to stop a Syrian-flagged vessel claimed to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from leaving Lebanon. The Lebanese government reported on Thursday that the Syrian-flagged Laodicea had left its territorial waters, despite appeals from Kyiv to reverse a court decision allowing its departure. Russia has denied stealing the grain on the ship, which was reported to be sailing to its ally, Syria.
  • The Kremlin said on Thursday that the Turkish-brokered deal to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports from the Black Sea was not a “one-off mechanism”, and that it hoped it would continue to work effectively. The deal, which allows for Ukrainian grain to be shipped to world markets via Turkey, must be renewed every 120 days by agreement of the parties.
  • The first shipment of Ukrainian grain to the UK since the war began is expected to arrive in 10 days, western officials said. Millions of tonnes of grain have been stuck in Ukraine since Russia invaded just over six months ago.
  • The UN has said that there have been more than 10m border crossings into and out of Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion of the country on 24 February. Data gathered by the UNHCR states that 6,180,345 individual refugees from Ukraine are now recorded across Europe. Ukraine’s neighbours have taken the largest individual numbers. Poland has 1.25 million refugees.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called the behaviour of the ex German chancellor Gerhard Schröder “disgusting”. The former German leader has come under fire after he went on holiday to Moscow and had a private meeting with Vladimir Putin. Schröder told German media in a lengthy interview he had nothing to apologise for over his friendship with the Russian president.
  • Nato members are working closely with defence companies to ensure Ukraine gets more supplies of weapons and equipment to be prepared for the long haul in its war with Russia, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday. Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview: “We are providing a lot of support but we need to do even more and be prepared for the long haul.”

We’re closing this liveblog now. Thanks so much for joining us. Our blog on the situation in Taiwan is still live:

Russia may launch an offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson to try to wrest back momentum from Kyiv and has been visibly building up forces, the Ukrainian general Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday.

Russia holds swathes of Ukraine’s south that it captured in the early phases of its 24 February invasion, but Kyiv has vowed to mount a major counter-offensive and used sophisticated western weapons to hit Russian supply lines and ammo dumps, Reuters reports.

Hromov said Russia had brought in a large amount of weapons and hardware to the north-east of the strategically important southern region of Kherson, much of which is occupied by Russia.

He told a news conference:

It’s possible the enemy may or will try to carry out offensive operations deep into our territory in order to seize the initiative and threaten the development of our success in order to force the [Ukrainian army] to stop expanding bridgeheads and go on the defensive.

In the east, he said Ukraine had improved its tactical position around the eastern city of Sloviansk, recapturing two villages, but that Russian forces had been trying to take the eastern city of Avdiivka and village of Pisky.

Ukrainian forces had been forced to concede territory there, switching to defending south of the city of Avdiivka and leaving the Butivka coal mine, he said.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in PokrovskA man on a wheelchair waits to board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man in a wheelchair waits to board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort in war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Full story: Ukraine ‘endangers civilians’ with army bases in residential areas, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has said the Ukrainian army is endangering the life of civilians by basing themselves in residential areas, in a report rejected by Ukrainian government representatives as placing blame on it for Russia’s invasion.

The human rights group’s researchers found that Ukrainian forces were using some schools and hospitals as bases, firing near houses and sometimes living in residential flats. The report concluded that this meant in some instances Russian forces would respond to an attack or target residential areas – putting civilians at risk and damaging civilian infrastructure.

It also criticised the Ukrainian army for not evacuating civilians who could be caught up in the crossfire.

“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, accused Amnesty of “distorting the real picture” and of failing to understand the situation on the ground. She said Ukrainian soldiers were deployed in cities and populated areas to defend them from Russian attack.

“There is no chronology of events [in the report]. The Russian Federation is committing the crime here. Ukraine is protecting its land. Moscow ignores all the rules of war. And unlike Ukraine, it doesn’t let in international organisations like Amnesty,” said Maliar.

Speaking at a briefing in Kyiv, Maliar stressed that the Ukrainian armed forces laid on buses to evacuate civilians from the frontline. Some refused to go, despite repeated pleas and offers of transport to safer regions. Ukraine gave access to outside agencies, including the international criminal court, and carried out its own investigations into abuses committed by its troops, she said.

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s minister of defence, said “any attempt to question the right of Ukrainians to resist genocide, to protect their families and homes … is a perversion”, and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that “the only thing that poses a threat to Ukraine is a Russian army of executioners and rapists coming to Ukraine to commit genocide”.

Amnesty researchers investigated Russian strikes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions between April and July. They found 19 villages and towns from where the Ukrainian forces had either launched strikes or were basing themselves. In these three regions, Amnesty found five locations where hospitals were “de facto” used as bases, and out of 29 schools visited by Amnesty, they concluded 22 had been used as bases.

Schools were closed on the first day of the invasion and pupils have been learning remotely, where possible.

The report noted that most of the civilian infrastructure repurposed by the Ukrainian army was located kilometres from the frontlines and argued that alternative locations were available.

Maliar argued at the briefing that Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems needed to be based in towns to protect civilian infrastructure, and if Ukrainian forces were only based outside urban settlements “Russian armed forces would simply sweep in unopposed”.

Ukrainian social media users also responded with examples of when Russian forces have hit buildings being used by civilians, as well as the scores of crimes committed against Ukrainian civilians under Russian occupation.

Read more from my colleagues Isobel Koshiw and Luke Harding in Kyiv here:

A US official accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, which Russia said took place overnight on 29 July.

On Thursday the US official, who asked not to be named, said that intelligence reports show Russia will doctor the scene at the prison ahead of the possible visits by outside investigators.

The official told AFP, without sharing the evidence:

We expect that Russian officials are planning to falsify evidence in order to attribute the attack on Olenivka prison on 29 July to the Ukrainian armed forces.

We anticipate that Russian officials will try to frame [Ukraine’s military] … in anticipation of journalists and potential investigators visiting the site of the attack.

More than 50 soldiers died in the strike, including troops who had surrendered after weeks of defending the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol.

Here are some of the latest images sent to us from Ukraine over the news wires.

Ukrainian volunteers make a camouflage net for the army in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian volunteers make a camouflage net for the army in Kharkiv. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA
FILE PHOTO: Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv regionFILE PHOTO: A member of the Ukrainian National Guard jumps into a trench at a position near a front line, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine August 3, 2022. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/File Photo
A member of the Ukrainian National Guard jumps into a trench at a position near a front line. Photograph: Reuters
Residents carry bags with food in the small village of Malaya Rohan in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Residents carry bags with food in the small village of Malaya Rohan in Kharkiv. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters
Vegetables grow next to the destroyed hulk of a Russian military vehicle at a garden in the village of Velyka Dymerka, Ukraine
Vegetables grow next to the destroyed hulk of a Russian military vehicle at a garden in the village of Velyka Dymerka, Ukraine Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA
People line up to receive bread at a humanitarian aid distribution point in Zaporizhzhia.
People line up to receive bread at a humanitarian aid distribution point in Zaporizhzhia. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/AP
A police officer helps and older man to board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort in Pokrovsk, Ukraine.
A police officer helps and older man to board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort in Pokrovsk, Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
The graves of recently killed Ukrainian soldiers line a cemetery as a gravedigger covers the casket of Serhiy Marchenko following his burial service in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Marchenko, 26, was killed in battle July 28 with Russian forces in the Donetsk region. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The graves of recently killed Ukrainian soldiers line a cemetery as a gravedigger covers a casket in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: David Goldman/AP
Ukrainian volunteers make pillows for the army in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian volunteers make pillows for the army in Kharkiv. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA

Nato members are working closely with defence companies to ensure Ukraine gets more supplies of weapons and equipment to be prepared for the long haul in its war with Russia, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday.

Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview:

We are providing a lot of support but we need to do even more and be prepared for the long haul.

Therefore we’re also now in close contact and working closely with the defence industry to produce more and to deliver more of different types of ammunition, weapons and capabilities.

Stoltenberg said separately in a speech in Norway to local Labour party activists on Thursday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, had created the most dangerous moment for Europe since the second world war and that Russia could not be allowed to win.

He also accused Vladimir Putin of engaging in “reckless and dangerous” rhetoric regarding the potential use of nuclear arms.

While Nato members are not directly involved in the war, the alliance is closely involved in coordinating the western response to the invasion.

Stoltenberg reiterated his position that the war would probably end only after negotiations.

He told Reuters:

We know most wars end at the negotiating table. We also know that the outcome of those negotiations will be totally dependent on the strength on the battlefield.

It’s not for me to tell Ukraine what those terms exactly should be. It’s for me and Nato to support them to strengthen their hands, so we maximise the likelihood of an acceptable solution.

The war has led previously non-aligned Finland and Sweden to seek Nato membership, with the request so far ratified by 23 of the 30 member states, including the United States.

Stoltenberg said:

This is the fastest accession protocol in Nato’s modern history. I expect the other seven remaining allies to do the same.

He said Turkey’s demand for extraditions from Sweden and Finland of terrorism suspects would have to be decided by courts in the two Nordic nations.

“The rule of law applies in Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said.

Finland’s foreign minister has presented a plan for limiting tourist visas issued to Russians, after increasing tourism from its eastern neighbour spurred discontent due to the war in Ukraine.

As flights from Russia to the EU have been halted, Finland has become a transit country for many Russians seeking to travel further into Europe.

“Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime,” the foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, told AFP.

Finland is seeking Nato membership after political and popular support for the alliance soared following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but the Nordic country remains Russia’s only EU neighbour without restrictions on tourist visas to Russian citizens.

Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow for a outright ban on visas based on nationality, Finland can reduce visa numbers issued based on category, Haavisto noted.

“Tourism category can be restricted in the terms of how many visas can be applied for in a day,” Haavisto said.

Joe Biden said on Thursday that the sentencing of basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drugs charges in Russia was “unacceptable” and called on Moscow to release her immediately.

Biden said a statement:

Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.

It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.

Griner’s defence said they will file an appeal on behalf of the US basketball star.

Griner’s defence team said that in sentencing the court had ignored all evidence they had presented as well as Griner’s guilty plea.

They said they were “disappointed” by the verdict.

Russian court jails US basketballer Brittney Griner for nine years on drug charges

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth

A Moscow court has convicted the US basketball player Brittney Griner on drug charges, sentencing her to nine years in prison and a 1m rouble fine in a politically charged verdict that could lead to a prisoner swap with the United States.

Griner, a basketball talent who played in Russia during off-seasons from the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested for cannabis possession in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February.

Her arrest came just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, launching frantic backdoor negotiations between the US and Russian intelligence services as her trial played out in a small courthouse just outside the Moscow city limits.

Her formal conviction, which was a foregone conclusion, would be a necessary step towards a prisoner exchange. US officials say Russia wants to swap Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US marine arrested on spying charges in 2020, for the convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

While she pleaded guilty to the drug charges, the US has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained”, launching a process similar to hostage negotiations with Iran and other countries. A senior US embassy official attended Thursday’s hearing and verdict, where police spetsnaz (special forces) and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the hallways.

Prosecutors asked for a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence for Griner and a hefty fine, nearly the maximum in her case.

In an emotional closing statement on Thursday, Griner apologised to her teammates and told the courtroom that she had made an “honest mistake”, adding “that is why I pled guilty to my charges but I had no intent of breaking the law”.

She has also rejected the political implications of her case, making an emotional appeal directly to the judge, Anna Sotnikova.

“I know everybody keep talking about ‘political pawn’ and ‘politics,’ but I hope that is far from this courtroom,” she said, asking for leniency.

In the end, it was not shown.

Read the full story here:

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain to the UK since the war began is expected to arrive in 10 days, western officials said.

Millions of tonnes of grain have been stuck in Ukraine since Russia invaded just over six months ago.

A UN-brokered agreement last month allowed the first Ukrainian shipment to be cleared for travel this week, with the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni carrying corn and entering the Bosphorus strait on the way to Lebanon on Wednesday.

Speaking about the newly re-established Ukrainian grain exports, a western official said the Malta-flagged Rojen is “due to arrive in the UK on August 14”, PA News reports.

The official said:

This will almost certainly be the first shipment from Ukraine to arrive in the UK since the end of February and the start of the invasion.

The bulk carrier is expected to travel from the Port of Chornomorsk in Ukraine, where it is thought to be berthed and loaded, to the UK, but the official could not say which UK port is expected to receive it.

However, according to the VesselFinder website, the ship is due to arrive in Teesport on August 17.

The cargo is “probably corn or grain”, the official said, adding:

What it does show is that there is – which perhaps people don’t realise – direct supply of agricultural produce to the UK from the Ukraine.

Addressing the first shipment to leave Ukraine since the agreement, the official said:

It is almost certain the success of its transit will result in more frequent transits.

Clearing the backlog caused by the blockade that’s been in place since February will almost certainly remain a major logistical challenge.

But another western official, when asked about the shipment, said there is limited information available about when ships will be leaving Ukraine, and decisions are still be negotiated among the parties to the agreement.

They said:

At some point soon they will agree which ships will leave and when. We don’t have those details yet.

Kyiv calls Amnesty report that says Ukrainian forces are endangering citizens ‘unfair’ and a ‘perversion’

Ukraine has slammed a report by Amnesty International (See 13:56) which found that Ukrainian forces are endangering civilians as “unfair” and a “perversion”.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says in a video posted on Facebook:

This behaviour of Amnesty International is not about finding and reporting the truth to the world, it is about creating a false equivalence – between the offender and the victim, between the country that destroys hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories, and a country that is desperately defending itself.

Top presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak insisted Ukraine’s armed forces take all measures to move civilians to safer areas and suggested Amnesty was complicit in spreading Kremlin disinformation.

He tweeted:

The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is (Russian) army of executioners and rapists coming to (Ukraine) to commit genocide.

The only thing that poses a threat to Ukrainians is 🇷🇺 army of executioners and rapists coming to 🇺🇦 to commit genocide. Our defenders protect their nation and families. People’s lives are the priority for Ukraine, that is why we are evacuating residents of front-line cities. 1/2

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 4, 2022

Today, Moscow tries to discredit the Armed Forces of 🇺🇦 in the eyes of Western societies and disrupt weapons supply using the entire network of influence agents. It is a shame that the organization like @amnesty is participating in this disinformation and propaganda campaign. 2/2

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 4, 2022

Meanwhile, defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov called the report a “perversion” as he said it questioned the right of Ukrainians to defend their country.

A serviceman of a Ukrainian National Guard unit takes part in training at their position in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine.
A serviceman of a Ukrainian National Guard unit takes part in training at their position in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA





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