Ukraine’s armed forces helped in the March assault of a nursing home in the southeast of Kyiv that endangered and killed civilians, a report released by the United Nations found.
Dozens of elderly and disabled patients – many of them bedridden – were trapped inside the nursing home near the village of Stara Krasnyanka, in the eastern region of Luhansk, without water or electricity for two weeks.
After the attack, a fire spread throughout the facility, so patients who couldn’t move suffocated and a small number of patients and staff fled into a nearby forest and walked for 5km before getting assistance.
After the unprovoked attack that occurred on March 11, Ukraine has blamed the Russian forces for destroying the nursing home, but the UN report shows that Ukrainians share perhaps an equal part of the blame.
The nursing home’s management reportedly requested that the local authorities evacuate the residents days before the attack, but Ukrainian soldiers took up positions inside the facility, effectively making it a target.
The evacuation was later rendered impossible since Ukrainian armed forces had allegedly blocked the roads and mined the surrounding area.
At the time when the Russians attacked, there were 71 patients and 15 staff in the home along with Ukrainian armed forces. Although the number of people killed in the strike remains unknown, the UN said that at least 22 patients survived the attack.
Commenting on the report, David Crane, a former US Defense Department official, pointed out that Ukrainians placed those people in a killing zone situation which is unjustifiable, noting that the bottom-line rule is that civilians cannot intentionally be targeted by anyone and for whatever reason.
The report also notes that both Ukraine and the Russians used “human shields,” which are prohibited under the Geneva Convention, during the attack but the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights does not conclude that Moscow or Ukrainian soldiers committed a war crime.