Russia accused by the United States of using chemical weapons in Ukraine: what we know

Russia accused by the United States of using chemical weapons in Ukraine: what we know
Russia accused by the United States of using chemical weapons in Ukraine: what we know

Has Russia violated international treaties? The US State Department explains, in a press release published Wednesday 1er may, have ” determined “ that Russia would use chemical weapons against Ukrainian troops, despite prohibitions by international conventions.

Gases from the First World War

The United States accuses Russia in particular of using chloropicrin. This pesticide was notably used by the Germans during the First World War as a suffocating gas. In France, this product was authorized until 1989. Game wardens used it to kill pests.

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It is a suffocating gas, resembling tear gas. According to the US State Department, it would be used to “dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions and achieve tactical gains on the battlefield”.

Prohibited by international treaties

The Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CIWC) prohibits the development, manufacture, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Entering into force in 1997, Russia is one of the countries having signed and ratified this treaty. Chloropicrin is one of the gases prohibited by this convention.

Ukraine also signed the CIAC. Russia, which denies using chemical weapons, regularly accuses Ukraine of using them. In February, the Ukrainians accused the Russian army of having used gas more than 200 times in the month of January 2024 alone.

New sanctions

In response to these alleged attacks, seven Russian companies and institutions are in the Americans’ sights for new sanctions. Among them, “three Russian government entities associated with Russian chemical and biological weapons programs and four Russian companies that contributed to these entities”explains the press release.

“Today’s sanctions aim to further disrupt and weaken Russia’s war effort by targeting its core military industry and evasion networks. [des sanctions existantes] who help him to provide himself »declared the American Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, quoted in a press release reported by theAFP.

Moscow reacts

The Kremlin has refuted the American accusations, announcesAFP. “As always, these accusations appear to be completely unfounded”declared to the press the spokesperson for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov, assuring that Moscow respected “its obligations relating to international law in this area”.

Russia has said it no longer possesses a military chemical arsenal, but the country faces pressure for more transparency over the use of toxic weapons it is accused of.

Recurring accusations

In an investigation published on April 6, 2024, the British newspaper The Telegraph claimed that Russia was using tear gas. Regularly used by police forces around the world, including in France, to disperse crowds, its use is prohibited in the context of a conflict by the CIAC. Russia reportedly uses a higher concentration of gas in grenades than those used for law enforcement.

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In January 2024, in an article in World , Yuriy Belousov, head of investigations at the Prosecutor General’s Office in kyiv, revealed that 626 chemical weapons attacks had been recorded by the Ukrainian army since February 24, 2022, the start of the war. But only “64 cases of using gas” could have been confirmed by its services, ” almost always “ tear gas “broadcast by K-51 grenades”.

What sources?

The assertions of Telegraph on the use of tear gas are based on an investigation carried out by the newspaper. A grenade was reportedly recovered from the front by Ukrainian soldiers and passed to journalists by Rebekah Maciorowski, an American nurse serving in the Ukrainian army. Marc-Michael Blum, a chemical weapons expert and former director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, identified the object as a K-51 grenade. These Russian munitions are “usually filled with tear gas”according to him.

In January 2024, LCI also claimed that Russia was using tear gas against Russian positions. Our colleagues were able to film K-51 grenades and collect testimonies from Ukrainian soldiers.

As for chloropicrin, in August 2023, the Kyiv Independent , a Ukrainian English-language newspaper, reported the words of Oleksandr Tarnavaskyi, commander of the Tavria military sector. According to him, on August 6, 2023, Russian soldiers fired two artillery barrages with munitions containing chemical weapons, probably chloropicrin. The United States does not explain how it arrived at these conclusions.

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