AOAV Board member Dr Saleyha Ahsan has spoken to The Mirror newspaper following reports that Russian special forces are using “Red Cross” flagged ambulances to practise ambush techniques.
In what appears to be a potential breach of the Geneva Convention. Russian naval commandos were spotted using medical wagons as disguise in a military training exercise, six miles from their border with Norway.
The paper reported that Arctic special forces troops were photographed using ambulances bearing the Red Cross symbol as cover, “concealing heavy weapons being carried on board”. Russian military officials have confirmed the incident at Pechenga, close to Norway, involved practising raiding, ambush and counter-sabotage operations.
The paper quoted AOAV’s board member in the article, reporting: “Dr Saleyha Ahsan, a former British Army officer and now a director at Action On Armed Violence charity, said: “This way of practising war-fighting breaks all of the rules that have been so sacred to me and other armed forces personnel. When I was at Sandhurst training to be an officer we were given the Geneva Convention and in Bosnia we carried it everywhere. This is something we held very sacred, that we protected. I cannot begin to tell you how shocked I am that this is happening. There is a grave and terrible threat to the sanctity of healthcare work in conflict and Russian forces appear to be normalising it by training to break the rules.”
Dr Ahsan, who is studying a PHD on healthcare in war zones at Cambridge University, also told the paper that “it horrifies me and something has to be done about it. It means they are practising this for future wars, as they already have done in Syria. Healthcare people and vehicles have to be protected and I fear this story shows we are now entering really dark times.”
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