By Reuters, published by The Straits Times, plus BBC
Kyiv – Ukraine is checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Tuesday (Apr. 12).
“There is a theory that these could be phosphorus munitions,” Ms. Malyar said in televised comments, adding: “Official information will come later.”
Russia’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russia-backed separatist forces trying to wrest complete control of Mariupol denied using chemical weapons in comments carried by Russian news agency Interfax.
It added that the city’s civilian population had minimal contact with the unspecified poison but that Ukrainian soldiers had come into closer contact with it and were now being observed for possible symptoms.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Monday that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Britain and the United States have said they are aware of reports that Russia may have already used chemical agents in Mariupol. Britain said it was working with partners to verify the reports.
Russia has previously accused Ukraine of preparing to use chemical weapons, without providing evidence.
Last month the Kremlin said US talk of Russia using such weapons was a tactic to divert attention away from awkward questions for Washington.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and displaced millions. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to destroy Ukraine’s military capabilities and capture what it views as dangerous nationalists, but Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
He said peace talks had reached a dead end, saying Ukraine had made “fake claims” about war crimes and extended demands for security guarantees.
Meanwhile Lukashenko said allegations of atrocities in northern Ukraine were “a psychological operation carried out by the English”
Top: An armoured vehicle of pro-Russian troops is seen in Mariupol on April 11, 2022. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
First insert: Resident stands with her belongings on a street near a burnt building in Mariupol on April 10, 2022. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
Second insert: Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko visited a Russian space centre with his close ally Vladimir Putin. Photo: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin and published by BBC
Home Page: People are still trying to trace missing loved ones after the Russian occupation of Bucha. Photo: EPA and published by BBC