Responding to reports that at least 25 civilians were killed today by a missile strike on a humanitarian convoy in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“The fact that a humanitarian convoy was struck in this horrendous attack is further proof of Russia’s utter disregard for civilian lives in Ukraine. People delivering humanitarian aid are not military targets, and it is devastating to see more lives ruined by wanton death and destruction. All those responsible for Russia’s repeated unlawful attacks in Ukraine must be held accountable for their actions.”
The convoy was struck as it was preparing to go a Russian-occupied part of the region to deliver humanitarian aid. Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance mission is a war crime.
By analysing photos and video from social media, Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab confirmed that the strike hit the line of civilian vehicles as it gathered at the Avtorynok car scrapyard market on the southern outskirts of Zaporizhzhia, approximately 27.5 kilometres from the front line. A crater near the convoy measured approximately five meters wide and 2.5 metres deep, which is consistent with the warhead of a large guided missile.
According to media reports, at least 25 people were killed and 50 wounded – all of them civilians. Amnesty International was able to confirm 23 individual deaths of women and men by analysing photos and videos to identify unique clothing and distinctive features on the victims’ bodies.
Ukrainian authorities reported that 16 missiles were fired at or near Zaporizhzhia during the attack, and online records indicate that the alarm sirens of the civil defence warning system sounded at 7.11am local time, nearly simultaneously with the strike. Based on the distance inside Ukrainian controlled territory, the warning sirens, the size and type of crater, and the number of weapons simultaneously fired, Amnesty International believes this was almost certainly an attack by Russian military forces.
The strike comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced the annexation of four Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian forces in the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Amnesty International has previously declared the so-called referenda that preceded the announcement illegal, and their results a “sham”, and warned that Russia’s annexation of occupied territory would violate international law.
Accountability for war crimes
Since the beginning of the conflict, Amnesty International has been documenting Russian war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law committed during Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. All of Amnesty International’s outputs published to date – including news updates, reports, briefings and investigations – can be found here.
Amnesty International has called repeatedly for members of Russian forces and officials responsible for violations to be held to account, and has welcomed the ongoing International Criminal Court investigation in Ukraine. Comprehensive accountability in Ukraine will require the concerted efforts of the UN and its organs, as well as initiatives at the national level pursuant to the principle of universal jurisdiction.