The Russians used a toxic substance against Ukrainian civilians and soldiers in the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, the Azov battalion fighting there and various Ukrainian media reported Monday.
Russian occupying troops reportedly used a drone to drop a toxic substance of unknown origin that caused breathing problems, dizziness and nausea, among other things, according to a message from the Azov battalion on Telegram messaging.
Authorities have not yet confirmed this information, however. According to public broadcaster Suspilne, sources within the Ukrainian military say the risk of the Russians using chemical weapons is very high, but the station has not yet received official confirmation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also referred to the threat in his daily video address. We take this very seriously, he said. According to him, a possible chemical attack should prompt foreign states to take even tougher measures against Russian aggression.
Since the war began, Ukraine has expected the Russians to use chemical weapons. After more than six weeks of fighting, almost all of Mariupol has been conquered by the Russians and pro-Russian rebels, but resistance continues. However, the fall of this strategic port city seems imminent.
Russia did not itself use chemical weapons during the war in Syria, but it did cover up and deny the Syrian government’s proven dropping of bombs containing poisonous gas.