US: Russia's Using Chemical Agents in Ukraine

Russia said to be using the choking agent chloropicrin and tear gases banned in war
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2024 9:02 AM CDT
US Accuses Russia of Using Chemical Agents in Ukraine
Cadets practice trying on gas masks during a lesson in a bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 6, 2023.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Weeks after Russia launched its war in Ukraine, President Biden warned his Russian counterpart would pay a "severe price" if he approved the use of chemical weapons. Now, the US is handing out new sanctions, alleging Russia has indeed used chemical weapons. The State Department accuses Russia of using the choking agent chloropicrin—banned in warfare under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) signed by Russia—to "dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions" and "achieve tactical gains on the battlefield," according to a Wednesday statement, per CNN. Chloropicrin, widely used in World World I, irritates the eyes, lungs, and skin, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for weeks.

The allegations come after months of reports of mounting chemical attacks in Ukraine. In March, Ukraine's armed forces claimed Russia had used tear gas munitions, also prohibited in warfare, more than 1,000 times, including 250 times in February alone, per CNN. Last month, Reuters reported Russian forces were using CS and CN tear gases. It reported 500 Ukrainian solders were treated for exposure, and one died from suffocation. Other Ukrainian soldiers have described burns and welts on their faces, mouths, and throats, per CNN. In describing the use of chloropicrin, the US State Department also accused Moscow of regularly using "riot control agents."

The Kremlin, linked to nerve agent attacks against critics and dissidents, calls the accusations "baseless" and claims it continues to abide by the CWC, per the BBC. Regardless, the State Department is "re-imposing restrictions on foreign military financing, US Government lines of credit, and export licenses for defense articles and national security-sensitive items going to Russia," it said. Three Russian government entities tied to chemical and biological weapons programs have been sanctioned along with four Russian companies that work with those bodies, per CNN. Sanctions were also levied against three prison officials related to the death of Alexei Navalny. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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