Russia's Use of Banned Chemical Weapons in Ukraine Escalates

World » UKRAINE | May 23, 2024, Thursday // 13:56
Bulgaria: Russia's Use of Banned Chemical Weapons in Ukraine Escalates @Pickpik

Russia has been using banned chemical weapons, specifically chloropicrin gas, in battles along the front line in Ukraine to weaken Ukrainian troops' ability to defend their positions and force retreats.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US and Ukrainian officials, along with medics, soldiers, and international researchers, report that Russia’s use of banned chemical weapons on the battlefield is increasing as Moscow intensifies its offensive.

Earlier this month, the US announced sanctions against Russian companies and government agencies involved in the development and supply of chemical weapons used on the front lines, specifically citing chloropicrin. This chemical agent, sometimes used in pesticides, was first introduced during World War I and is banned for combat use under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Russia has signed.

Dan Kaszeta, a chemical weapons expert and research associate at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, explains that chloropicrin is toxic to humans and animals and acts as an irritant. Depending on exposure levels, the gas can cause skin burns, tear duct irritation, and breathing difficulties. Kaszeta notes that this chemical has been replaced by more modern substances, such as CN and CS, sometimes used by police as tear gas, which are also banned by the convention.

Captain Dmytro Sergiyenko, assistant commander of the Analytical Center of the Ukrainian Army Support Forces, which analyzes the use of chemical weapons on the front, stated that Russians are using all three substances on the battlefield. While his team primarily recorded the use of CN and CS in the areas he was monitoring, they also found two grenades containing chloropicrin in abandoned Russian positions, according to the WSJ.

Ukrainians have been tracking chemical weapon use on the front lines since February 2023, with confirmed incidents steadily increasing. As of May 3, the Support Force had confirmed 1,891 such attacks since data tracking began, with 444 occurring in April, marking a rise of 71 confirmed incidents from the previous month. These figures are incomplete because the intensity of the fighting often prevents reaching the sites where the gas was used to collect samples or interview soldiers, as noted by the WSJ.

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Tags: Russia, chemical, Ukraine

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