Ukraine Accused Of Using Cluster Bombs In Donetsk Shelling

Human Rights Watch alleges the Ukrainian military used cluster bombs during shelling of Donetsk.
Posted at 10:58 AM, Oct 21, 2014

Shelling has continued in Ukraine, despite the cease-fire that went into effect at the start of September. Now there are allegations some of that shelling could constitute war crimes. 

Human Rights Watch issued a report claiming it found evidence of Ukrainian military forces' use of cluster bombs during shelling of Donetsk. 

OLE SOLVANG FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: "The Ukrainian armed forces were responsible for at least some of these attacks. In the incidents documented by Human Rights Watch, cluster munitions killed at least six civilians and injured dozens." 

The report says the shelling took place earlier this month in the heavily contested eastern Ukrainian city, which is held by pro-Russian rebels. It says using cluster bombs on a populated area would constitute a violation of the laws of war. (Video via Euronews)

More than 100 countries signed on to a United Nations treaty banning the use of cluster bombs in 2008, but Ukraine wasn't one of them. 

Some major countries like the United States and Russia also never signed that treaty, but the use of cluster munitions is still widely condemned in the international community. Human Rights Watch's Ole Solvang explains why:

SOLVANG FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: "The problem with cluster munitions is that they cover a wide area, and anybody who is in that area, whether they are civilians or combatants, run the risk of being injured and killed. And that is why it is an inherently indiscriminate weapon." 

And the report alleges it was a cluster bomb that killed a Swiss Red Cross worker earlier this month when a shell hit a Red Cross building. (Video via RT)

As The New York Times points out, the report could further complicate efforts to reunite the country, and it "could also add credibility to Moscow's version of the conflict, which is that the Ukrainian national government is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens." 

Still, it was Russian media that first made allegations of war crimes in the conflict, and as an Amnesty International official told Sky News, they haven't been the most accurate. 

SERGEI NIKITIN VIA SKY NEWS: "A few weeks ago, Russian media was telling the stories. ... They said that they found graves with hundreds of victims. ... Now they can absolutely report that there were nine people buried in these three graves."

For its part, Amnesty International says there has been evidence of war crimes perpetrated by both the Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist forces at various stages in the conflict.

Ukrainian officials have reportedly denied the allegations made in the report, which also says there is evidence of the separatist rebels using the cluster munitions as well.