Russia accuses Ukraine of using American-made chemical weapons
02/27/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Russia claims that Ukrainian forces are using banned chemical weapons and chemical agents they received from the U.S., which would mean both the U.S. and Ukraine are violating the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreement.

This is according to the leader of the Russian Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection Forces, Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, who cited Ukraine’s use of drones to drop American-made grenades that contained a compound known as CS in late December. CS is considered a riot control tool and is known for causing irritation to the upper respiratory tract and eyes. However, in high concentrations, it can lead to skin burns, respiratory paralysis and even cardiac arrest.

According to Kirillov, the U.S. directly violated OPCW rules by delivering these munitions to Ukraine. The OPCW states that countries must “never, under any circumstances, transfer chemical weapons directly or indirectly to anyone.”

He also identified another instance in June when he claims Russian forces were attacked by a drone that was carrying chloropicrin. The chemical is considered a Schedule 3 compound by the Chemical Weapons Convention and its use is banned, even in law enforcement situations. Kirillov says that it was also used by Ukrainian forces on two occasions in Rabotino.

Chloropicrin is used widely in agriculture for its insecticide, herbicide, fungicide and antimicrobial properties, but countries have been using it as a chemical weapon since at least World War I because of its irritant effects. The gas can be especially toxic when it enters dugouts used by soldiers. It is listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “lung-damaging agent.”

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He believes that Ukraine used a variety of toxic substances against Russian soldiers and poisoned Vladimir Saldo, the head of the Kherson region, along with other high-ranking officials.

Russian intelligence officials think that Western nations are backing Ukraine in developing a “chemical belt” tactic that entails using ammonia and hydrocyanic acid to blow up containers to stop Russian forces from advancing. This belief is being fueled by Ukraine’s request to the EU for hundreds of thousands of gas masks, personal protective equipment and antidotes in this year's aid package.

Last year, they received hundreds of thousands of bottles of drugs that detoxify hydrocyanic acid and mustard gas, as well as organophosphorus antidotes. Kirillov believes that the fact that Ukraine is requesting such high volumes of these items is further evidence that they intend to use chemical weapons.

Russia has also accused Kiev of employing chemical weapons in fighting around Donetsk settlements such as Bakhmut and Soledar.

Both sides are accusing each other of using chemical weapons

Both sides have been lobbing accusations of chemical weapon use at one another. Ukraine's armed forces claim that they have never used any type of chemical weapon at any point in the conflict and instead accused Moscow of carrying out a disinformation campaign and using banned weapons against them.

Ukrainian officials report that Russia has been ramping up its use of chemical weapons, racking up 229 attacks last month alone. They claim that Russia has been using chloropicrin in its own attacks, as well as CS compound. In one incident that reportedly took place on August 6, Russian troops fired a pair of artillery barrages with munitions that contained a chemical substance believed to be chloropicrin in the area of Novodanylivka.

Ukraine and its Western allies have said that they believe Russia's warnings about Ukraine’s use of chemical weapons could be part of a tactic where Russia would use such chemicals themselves and pin the blame on Ukraine.

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