On 26 June, while discussing the use of armed forces of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky declared that it would be appropriate to give more power of initiative and decision-making to commanders.
This decision was allegedly made in order to preserve the life and health of the personnel. The President of Ukraine, however, might have forgotten that the main priority of the state shall be to minimize the risks and threats to life of civilians under international humanitarian law. The latest UN report recommended that the Ukrainian government develop a regulatory framework to protect civilians and civilian objects in combat operations. However, the statements of President Zelensky contradict recommendations of the reputable monitoring mission.
Given the escalation of violence, which is currently observed in the territory of Donbass, I believe that this decision would deteriorate the human rights situation, as well as perpetuate the practice of gross violations of international humanitarian law, including in the use of prohibited methods of warfare by the armed forces of Ukraine.
If Zelensky’s proposal is supported by a legal framework, we will soon observe an escalation of the conflict and a significant deterioration of the social and humanitarian situation in Donbass.
I urge the world community and international human rights organizations to pay particular attention to this proposal of the President of Ukraine and to discourage its implementation in order to prevent a new round of violence in the region, as well as to ensure respect for the rights and freedoms of Donbass residents.