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On June 12, two Russian journalists dropped a bombshell. They reported on a Moscow-based TV station that the Ukrainian government had used white phosphorus gas, a chemical weapon, on civilians during “anti-terrorist operations” in the insurgent stronghold of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine.
But as it turns out, the journalists’ claims were entirely fabricated.
In a rare act of contrition, the TV station Zvezda, which is the media arm of the Russian Defense Ministry, reportedly sent an apology letter last week to a Ukrainian TV network owned by President Petro Poroshenko. The letter expressed regret for the false accusations. (Russia Today, frequently cited as the propaganda arm of the Kremlin, has yet to apologize for parroting the claim. Other outlets that published the charges as fact include the Voice of Russia and ITAR-TASS.)
originally posted by: maghun
a reply to: DJW001
First HRW recognises Crimea after the so called "Russian occupation", now recognises one type of war crime in Ukraine.
Where are the so called "anti-war movements" today?
Human Rights Watch is of the view that the international law of occupation applies to Russian forces in Crimea. Under international humanitarian law, an occupying power has an obligation to restore and ensure public order and safety as far as possible while respecting, unless absolutely prevented from doing so, the occupied country’s laws in force. International human rights law also remains applicable to situations amounting to occupation. The occupying party is ultimately responsible for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by local authorities or proxy forces.
This determination is based on the situation in Crimea as applied to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, as discussed below. The referendum vote, decisions on sovereignty by local authorities in Crimea, and endorsement of the referendum by the Russian government do not affect the applicability of the law of occupation to the Crimea situation.
Human Rights Watch, in accordance with its longstanding policy on laws of armed conflict, remains neutral on the decisions of parties to a conflict to use military force and on the military occupation of another country or region.
2. Does applying occupation law to Russia affect the status of the territory that Russia occupies?
Applying the law of occupation, or determining Russia to be an occupying power for the purposes of international humanitarian law, does not in any way affect the sovereignty of the territory. Sovereignty is not transferred to the occupying power.
Local authorities organized the March 16 referendum in Crimea without the authorization of the Ukrainian government and the referendum has not received broad-based endorsement by other countries. It cannot be considered a transfer of sovereignty that would end the state of belligerent occupation.
Last week Russian state media gave big play to allegations that Ukrainian forces had used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon in eastern Ukraine. In the midst of it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged an investigation into the use of incendiary weapons.
It all started on June 11 when the privately owned, pro-Kremlin Russian news outlet LifeNews posted a segment citing anti-Kiev insurgent claims of a white phosphorous attack on Semyonovka, a village near Slovyansk, the insurgency’s stronghold. The footage showed a luminous substance raining through a night sky. The next day, apparently reporting on the same incident, several Russian state media outlets said incendiary weapons were used in Ukraine, showing very different video footage. Ukrainian media (correctly) claimed that this footage was from a 2004 US white phosphorous attack in Iraq. The Russia state media refuted this.
Are you confused enough yet? And why does it matter?
It matters because white phosphorus, which can be used legitimately to generate smoke to temporarily mask the movement of troops or vehicles, should never be used as an incendiary weapon. It can inflict severe injuries, including chemical burns that go down to the bone. White phosphorus munitions aren’t banned, but because they spread a burning substance over a large area, they are particularly dangerous to civilians. Their use in populated areas violates the laws of war prohibition against attacks that cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants.
After analyzing the LifeNews video clip, Human Rights Watch arms researchers concluded that it didn’t show a white phosphorous – or an incendiary weapon – attack. What the video actually appears to show is an illuminant or a pyrotechnic. First, the intensity of the burning and the amount of smoke it generated aren’t consistent with white phosphorus. Second, the substance falling from the sky in the video has a haphazard pattern, unlike an incendiary weapon. Third, there is no flash of an explosive bursting charge, no instantaneous uniform ignition of the substance, both characteristic of white phosphorus munitions. Whatever is falling from the sky is breaking apart in a non-uniform manner, more akin to crumbling or disintegrating – incendiary weapons don’t do this.