Chemical weapon allegedly used / What is known about the situation in Mariupol

In Mariupol, a chemical substance is said to have been used against Ukrainian defenders of the city. What information and details are available so far? Where exactly is the operation supposed to have taken place?

A Russian drone is said to have used a chemical substance in Mariupol, according to a Ukrainian regiment. The Ukrainian military did not provide any evidence for the claim.

US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said the US could not confirm the Mariupol report. However, he cited the US government’s ongoing concerns about “Russia’s potential to use a range of irritants, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents.” Britain said it was trying to verify the reports.

Where does the information come from?

The Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which is fighting in Mariupol, said in the Messenger service Telegram on Monday evening that a “poisonous substance” had been dropped on Ukrainian soldiers and civilians about an hour earlier. Those affected then suffered from breathing problems and neurological problems. The substance was dropped from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Battalion founder Andrei Biletsky said in a video message, according to the AFP news agency: “Three people have clear signs of poisoning by war chemicals, but without catastrophic consequences.”

Who is the source for the claims?

The Azov regiment has been under international criticism for years because of right-wing extremist symbols and members. In addition, the fighters were accused of crimes.

Experts emphasize, however, that in addition to the regiment there is also the political Azov movement, which has lost much of its influence in recent years. The regiment is also more moderate and has been placed under the Ministry of the Interior.

How is the situation in Mariupol?

The Russian attackers have already destroyed large parts of the Ukrainian port city. It is unclear how many people were killed in the fighting. According to Ukrainian sources, thousands of civilians have already died. Local authorities speak of serious war crimes and mobile crematoria being used to cover up the atrocities. International observers see the widespread destruction of the city and the attacks on the population as genocide.

Mariupol is considered strategically important for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as it would allow Russia to connect annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist-held areas of Donbass by land. In addition, the battle for the city ties up Russian forces that could not be used in other attacks.

It was recently reported that pro-Russian fighters had taken the city’s port. Ukrainian authorities rejected this, saying that fighting was still going on there.

Where exactly is the operation supposed to have taken place?

Before the report about the use of chemical substances, the military spokesman for the pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk, Eduard Bassurin, claimed that the Ukrainian fighters had been pushed into the Azovstal steel factory.

A fight for the fortifications on the factory premises would be too costly. said the military spokesman. That’s why you should rely on chemically armed troops. It is still unclear whether the alleged use of the chemical warfare agent took place there.

Although Russia did not use chemical weapons itself in the Syrian war, it did cover up and deny the proven dropping of bombs with poison gas by the Syrian government.

The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, manufacture, possession, transfer and use of chemical weapons. The international agreement was also signed by Russia and Syria.

Reports not confirmed

The report about the use of an unknown substance in Mariupol cannot be verified for the time being. Since large parts of the city are already under Russian occupation and people can hardly flee the embattled region, it is difficult to verify reports. The mayor of Mariupol reported serious war crimes and many thousands of deaths in the city, which seems plausible given the reports from Bucha and other places and the heavy destruction of Mariupol.

The use of chemical weapons also seems possible given the statements made by pro-Russian fighters and Russia’s brutal actions, but has not yet been proven.


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