Has Russia Used Chemical Weapons In Ukraine?
Where's The Evidence?
After numerous hints and allegations that Russia might resort to chemical weapons in Ukraine, the claim by Ukraine’s Azov Regiment that Russia has used chemical weapons is suspicious on its face.
Russia has 'unleashed chemical weapons on Mariupol' with Ukrainian troops claiming they were hit by an agent dropped by a drone leaving them unable to breath and dizzy - as the besieged city's mayor reveals more than 10,000 civilians in the conflict have died so far.
The unidentified agent is said to have been dropped on the southern port city from a Russian drone, according to unverified reports from the city's Azov regiment.
First, there do not appear to have been any casualties. Whatever this claimed chemical weapon might be, based on the reported description alone it is unlikely to have been something like chlorine, mustard gas, or phosgene gas, the chemical weapons of WW1 infamy whose use led to the Geneva Conventions banning chemical weapons from the battlefield. Given the fact that any use of chemical weapons is by definition a war crime, the use of a nonlethal agent seems almost comically futile and inept.
Second, the report was made by members of the Azov Regiment, Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi” formation, with a history of brutality against civilians. They are not the most credible of witnesses when it comes to reports of war crimes.
Third, the timing of the attack, coming just as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of such a possibility, is an amazing coincidence. Even more amazing is the apparent call by pro-Russian separatists for chemical weapons to be used just as they are allegedly being used.
A Russia-allied separatist official, Eduard Basurin, appeared to urge their use Monday, telling Russian state TV that Russian-backed forces should seize a giant metals plant in Mariupol from Ukrainian forces by first blocking all the exits out of the factory. ``And then we'll use chemical troops to smoke them out of there,'' he said.
To call the timing “convenient” is an understatement.
Yet the implausibility of a chemical weapons attack should not be conflated with an impossibility. The attack may very well have happened as reported. Confirmation and far better evidence than is currently available is necessary.
If chemical weapons have been used it is unquestionably a war crime. However, at the present time the key word is still “if".