Sunday, May 26, 2024

U.S. Says Russia Used Banned Choking Agents Against Ukrainian Troops

HomeWARU.S. Says Russia Used Banned Choking Agents Against Ukrainian Troops

In a chilling escalation of the brutality gripping Ukraine, the United States has leveled a damning accusation against Russia – alleging the brazen and unconscionable use of chemical weapons as a tactic of warfare against Ukrainian forces. The U.S. State Department, in a scathing statement released on Wednesday, declared with grim certainty that Russia has deployed the noxious chemical agent chloropicrin, a horrific violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that has sent shockwaves through the international community.

Chloropicrin, a potent and insidious irritant that saw widespread deployment as a chemical warfare agent during the nightmare of World War I, has long been banished from the battlefield under international law. Yet, the desperation and depravity of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine have seemingly driven its forces to resurrect this ghastly relic of a darker age. With its ability to inflict agonizing irritation to the lungs, eyes, and skin, potentially causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can torment its victims for weeks, chloropicrin has emerged as a cruel and indiscriminate weapon in Russia’s arsenal, according to the U.S. accusation.

The State Department’s damning assertion finds harrowing validation in the anguished testimonies of Ukrainian soldiers, who have weathered a relentless barrage of noxious gases and other insidious chemical agents unleashed by Russian forces along the embattled frontlines. In a distressing social media post from March, Ukraine’s armed forces revealed the staggering toll of this chemical onslaught, claiming to have documented over a thousand incidents where Russian troops deployed “tear gas munitions laced with toxic chemicals prohibited for warfare” – a staggering 250 such attacks in February alone.

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In a brazen display of defiance, the Kremlin has dismissed the U.S. allegations as “absolutely groundless” and “unsupported by anything,” with Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, defiantly asserting that Russia remains committed to its obligations under international law. Yet, the mounting evidence of chemical weapons use paints a grim portrait of a nation willing to flout the most fundamental tenets of human decency in pursuit of its ambitions.

Incensed by Russia’s alleged breach of the CWC, the United States has unleashed a withering barrage of punitive measures, imposing sweeping new sanctions targeting Russian firms and government entities linked to the country’s chemical and biological weapons programs. The State Department has “re-imposed restrictions on foreign military financing, U.S. Government lines of credit, and export licenses for defense articles and national security-sensitive items destined for Russia,” effectively severing critical financial and resource channels.

Moreover, the U.S. has sanctioned three Russian government bodies and four Russian companies that have contributed to these nefarious programs, further tightening the economic noose around Russia’s neck. This latest volley of sanctions is part of a broader offensive by the U.S. to cripple Russia’s war machine, with nearly 300 new sanctions levied against companies and individuals across multiple countries, including China, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Slovakia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, for their complicity in enabling Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.

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The U.S. has long sounded the alarm over Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, with President Joe Biden issuing a stern warning in March 2022, just a month after the invasion commenced, that NATO would respond forcefully if such heinous tactics were employed. This sentiment was echoed by the foreign ministers of the G7 nations in April 2022, who collectively vowed “severe consequences” for any Russian use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

Since then, U.S. officials have cited mounting evidence that Russia has disregarded these warnings, with Mallory Stewart, the U.S. Assistant State Secretary for Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability, citing reports from Ukraine in November 2022 alleging Russia’s use of riot control agents in the conflict.

Ukrainian combat medics and intelligence officials have provided chilling first-hand accounts of these chemical attacks, describing incidents where caustic and flammable gases, including forms of tear gas, were deployed by Russian drones onto Ukrainian positions. Two soldiers who survived such attacks recounted the excruciating burns, welts on their faces, and injuries to their mouths and throats inflicted by the noxious agents – a grim testament to the unspeakable suffering wrought by these banned weapons.

The use of chemical weapons is a flagrant violation of international law and a shocking breach of the most fundamental tenets of human decency. Russia’s alleged actions have drawn condemnation from across the globe, particularly in light of the country’s disturbing history of employing nerve agents against critics, including the high-profile poisonings of Sergei Skripal and Alexey Navalny – the latter of whom tragically died in February while incarcerated in a Siberian penal colony under suspicious circumstances.

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In a further effort to hold Russia accountable for its transgressions, the State Department has imposed new sanctions on three individuals directly linked to Navalny’s death, targeting the director of the prison where he was held, the head of solitary confinement who oversaw his cell and the walking yard where he allegedly collapsed, and the prison’s medical chief.

As the brutal conflict in Ukraine rages on, the international community remains steadfast in its determination to uphold the prohibition on chemical weapons and hold Russia accountable for any violations of these critical international laws and norms. The allegations of chemical weapons use represent a shocking escalation in the brutality of Russia’s campaign, a harrowing descent into the depths of inhumanity that has left the world reeling in horror and outrage. The path forward remains shrouded in uncertainty, but one truth echoes with resounding clarity: the wanton use of these abhorrent weapons cannot go unanswered, lest we surrender the fundamental principles of human dignity and morality that underpin our collective existence.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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