Russian military commanders have reported that Ukrainian troops deployed a type of chemical weapon against their units in Donbass, according to a local official.
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Speaking to Russian television on Monday, Denis Pushilin, the acting governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said his office has been receiving reports about possible chemical warfare “for at least two weeks.” Ukrainian troops have reportedly been deploying “chemical compounds that make our military service members ill,” he said.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, declined to discuss the allegation with journalists, saying that his office didn’t have accurate information about the issue.
He said the Russian military would pass such incidents up the chain of command and suggested contacting the Defense Ministry with further inquiries. The Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the claim.
Speculation that some Ukrainian units may use air-dropped munitions with a chemical agent has been swirling on social media since mid-January. The rumors were apparently triggered by a video that surfaced showing people in Ukrainian military uniforms assembling small quad drones carrying small containers, with the payload apparently taken from a refrigerator. Some military experts suggested that whatever was used must have been volatile if it had to be stored at a low temperature.
Chemical warfare is forbidden under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty that took effect in 1997 and to which both Ukraine and Russia are signatories. The military prohibition applies even to riot control agents, colloquially known as tear gas, though unlike other chemical weapons, the CWC allows such substances to be manufactured and used in law enforcement.