Ukrainian battalion accuses Russia of using chemical weapons on civilians

A Ukrainian battalion said Monday that Russia has used chemical weapons against Ukraine’s military and civilians, prompting victims to develop respiratory failure and other illnesses.

The Azoz Regiment, a unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, said the chemicals were of “unknown origin” and fell via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on civilians in the southeastern city of Mariupol.

“About an hour ago, Russian occupying forces used a toxic substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was thrown from a hostile UAV,” the Azoz regiment wrote on Telegram on Monday. “The victims have respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. The consequences of using an unknown drug are being clarified.”

NATO has warned that the use of chemical weapons could prompt further action by the West. Late last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the use of chemical weapons was a “manifest violation of international law with far-reaching consequences.”

President Joe Biden said earlier that such an action could be grounds for triggering an intense reaction from the United States, even though he stopped saying what it could be.

A Ukrainian military unit said Monday that Russian forces have used chemical weapons against civilians. Above, a Ukrainian official leaves a damaged building after shelling by Russian forces in Kiev on March 12, 2022.
ARIS MESSINIS / AFP / Getty Images

Newsweek could not independently verify Monday’s allegations. However, several Ukrainian officials also wrote about the allegations on social media.

Solomiia Bobrovska, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and Secretary of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on Biden and NATO to respond to the reports.

“That #Azov Batallion states that Russia has used an unknown chemical against defenders of #Mariupoland civilians. @POTUS @NATO They announced a strong reaction if Russia were to use chemical weapons. Time to act NOW, “she wrote.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, tweeted about the alleged use of chemical weapons.

“NOTE! Chemical weapons are used against Ukrainian defenders in #Mariupol! Russia is openly crossing all of humanity’s borders and declaring it openly, while Ukraine is still asking for heavy weapons, “he wrote.

Ivanna Klympush, a politician leading the nation’s efforts to integrate Ukraine into the EU, also condemned the alleged actions and called for further sanctions against Russia.

“This is the red line, in addition to which 🌎 must destroy the economy of despotism. We demand a full embargo on all fuels from #ROUGH & heavy weapons 2UA now !, “she wrote.

The British Ministry of Defense warned on Monday that Russia may soon use phosphorus bombs again as it seeks to increase military action in eastern Ukraine.

“Russian forces’ previous use of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk Oblast increases the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies,” the ministry said in its latest defense intelligence update posted on Twitter.

Monday’s claim from the battalion is not the first time Russia has been accused of using dangerous drugs in the war that began in late February. Ukrainian officials claimed last month that Russia was deploying white phosphorus ammunition in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, a substance strong enough to burn human flesh.

White phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon under the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons, but its use is strictly regulated by international law. It is illegal to use on civilians.

Newsweek contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry for comment.

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