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Ukraine Russia chemical weapons: US, UK, Australia probing Azov claims of assault in Mariupol

Leaders are “urgently” verifying claims Russia used chemical weapons within the besieged metropolis of Mariupol — they usually include warnings.

Western governments say they’re “urgently” making an attempt to confirm a declare from Ukrainian forces that Russia used chemical weapons within the besieged metropolis of Mariupol.

US President Joe Biden final month stated that use of chemical weapons by Vladimir Putin’s forces would set off a “severe” response.

In the newest warnings, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey stated Tuesday any use of chemical weapons by Russia in its assaults on Ukraine “will get a response and all options are on the table”.

“If they are used at all, then [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond,” he advised Sky News.

“There are some things that are beyond the pale, and the use of chemical weapons will get a response.”

The unverified declare of a chemical weapons assault — initially made by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion on social media and echoed by a Ukrainian politician — comes as President Volodymyr Zelensky lobbies Western governments for extra direct intervention within the warfare.

On Monday, the Azov Battalion claimed a Russian drone had dropped a “poisonous substance” on troops and civilians in Mariupol and that folks have been experiencing respiratory failure and neurological issues.

“Russian occupation forces used a poisonous substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was dropped from an enemy drone,” the group wrote on Twitter.

“The victims have respiratory failure … the effects of the unknown substance are being clarified.”

Azov Battalion chief Andrei Biletsky later stated in a video message on his personal Telegram channel that “three people have clear signs of poisoning by warfare chemicals but without catastrophic consequences”.

He accused the Russians of utilizing the chemical weapons throughout a strike on town’s giant Azovstal metallurgical plant.

Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush repeated the claims on Twitter.

“Russia [one-and-a-half hours] ago used unknown substance in Mariupol,” she wrote.

“Victims experience respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. Most likely chemical weapons! This is a red line beyond which must destroy economy of despotism. We demand full embargo on all fuels from [Russia and] heavy weapons [to Ukraine] now!”

On messaging app Telegram, an aide to the Mariupol mayor wrote {that a} chemical assault “is not currently confirmed”.

“We are waiting for official information from the military,” Petro Andryushchenko wrote.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated on Monday evening that Washington was “aware of social media reports which claim Russian forces deployed a potential chemical munition in Mariupol, Ukraine”.

“We cannot confirm at this time and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” he stated.

“These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss acknowledged “reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol”.

“We are working urgently with partners to verify details,” she wrote on Twitter. “Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account.”

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated the reviews have been “deeply concerning”.

“Australia is working with partners to verify these reports,” she stated. “Any use of chemical weapons would be a further wholesale breach of international law.”

It comes after the UK’s Ministry of Defence stated phosphorus munitions had already used within the Donetsk area and could possibly be used to interrupt resistance in Mariupol.

A strategic port positioned alongside the Sea of Azov, Mariupol has been besieged for weeks and Ukrainian forces are warning of its imminent fall.

“[The prior use] raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies,” the MoD stated.

Pro-Russian Donetsk separatist basic Eduard Basurin had spoken of the potential of utilizing chemical weapons towards the southern port.

Basurin stated the besieging forces may “turn to chemical troops who will find a way to smoke the moles out of their holes”, Russian information company RIA Novosti quoted him as saying on Monday.

In a video message in response to Basurin’s feedback, Mr Zelensky voiced issues Russian forces may use chemical weapons in a “new stage of terror” however didn’t affirm whether or not they had already been used.

“Today the occupiers issued a new statement which testifies to their preparation for a new stage of terror against Ukraine and our defenders,” he stated.

“One of the mouthpieces of the occupiers stated that they could use chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol. We take this as seriously as possible. I want to remind the world leaders that the possible use of chemical weapons by the Russian military has already been discussed. And already at that time it meant that it was necessary to react to the Russian aggression much tougher and faster.”

The Ukrainian chief known as for harder European Union sanctions on Russia together with an oil embargo, saying “anything that does not affect oil will be received in Moscow with a smile”.

Last week, the World Health Organisation stated it was making ready for “chemical assaults” in Ukraine.

“Given the uncertainties of the current situation, there are no assurances that the war will not get worse,” WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge stated throughout a briefing from Lviv.

“WHO is considering all scenarios and making contingencies for different situations that could afflict the people of Ukraine, from the continued treatment of mass casualties, to chemical assaults.”

Moscow beforehand claimed Kyiv may use chemical weapons towards its personal folks earlier than pointing the finger at Russia.

Russia has denied committing any warfare crimes throughout its navy operations in Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky stated on Monday he believed “tens of thousands” of individuals in Mariupol had been killed.

“The Russians completely destroyed Mariupol and burned it to ashes. At least tens of thousands of Mariupol citizens must have been killed,” he stated, talking by video hyperlink to South Korean lawmakers as he requested navy help.

“But for Russia, Mariupol is just an example. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen a lot of destruction like this in the 20th century.”

frank.chung@information.com.au

— with AFP



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