Putin releases illegal chemical choking agent in desperate effort to conquer Ukraine

May 3, 2024
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Russia has deployed a chemical choking agent in Ukraine as a “method of warfare,” US officials claimed this week.

State department officials said Moscow used the choking agent chloropicrin to win “battlefield gains” in their war on Ukraine – which the US said would be a direct violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which Russia signed.

Russia has since rejected the accusations and called them “baseless,” saying Moscow stands by its obligations under the CWC.

The international law, which some 193 states have ratified, prohibits states from developing or acquiring new weapons.

According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a chemical weapon is a substance used to cause intentional death or harm.

READ MORE: Ukraine special forces wipe out £80m missile system in devastating blow to Putin

The US said Russia has used chloropicrin – which is expressly banned under the CWC and listed as a choking agent by the OPCW – to “dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions.”

Chloropicrin was widely used during World War I and causes irritation of the lungs and eyes, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

US officials also claimed Moscow has regularly used “riot control agents” or tear gas during the war.

In March 2022, President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against deploying chemical weapons, saying Putin would pay a “severe price” if he did.

Biden said at the time: “We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”

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Despite Biden’s warning, Russia has used riot control agents in the war on Ukraine, said US Assistant Secretary for Arms Control Mallory Stewart.

Ukraine has also said its troops have faced an increased amount of chemical attacks in recent months, with some reports saying Moscow has used grenades loaded with tear gases.

In addition, at least 500 Ukrainian soldiers have been treated for exposure to toxic gases, Reuters reported.

Three Russian bodies linked to the country’s chemical weapons program have been sanctioned by the state department, as well as other firms attributed to the government.

Russia has been accused of at least two chemical attacks since 2017 – one on a former Soviet intelligence officer and one in the 2020 poisoning of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

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