Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that Russia’s forces could use chemical weapons in their war on Ukraine, amid unconfirmed reports that Russians have launched a chemical attack in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“Today, the occupiers issued a new statement which testifies to their preparation for a new stage of terror against Ukraine and our defenders. One of the occupiers’ mouthpieces stated that they could use chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol,” Zelenskyy said in his daily address.
“We take this as seriously as possible,” he added.
Pro-Russian Donetsk separatist commander Eduard Basurin said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV on Sunday that Russian forces might resort to chemical weapons against Ukrainians to win in Mariupol.
“There are subterranean floors there, therefore to take said object by force makes no sense. Because we could allocate a large number of our soldiers, and the enemy will not suffer such losses,” Basurin said.
He added: “Therefore at the moment, we need to deal with the blockage of this factory, we need to find exits and entrances, in principle, it can be done. And after that I think we need to turn to chemical forces, which will find a way to smoke moles out of their holes.”
The Azov battalion, a far-right militia now part of Ukraine's National Guard, said on Monday that a Russian drone dropped chemical weapons in Mariupol causing respiratory and nervous system symptoms in Ukrainians.
“The 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 UAV. The victims have respiratory failure and vestibulo-atactic syndrome,” the state-run Ukrinform news agency cited the battalion as saying.
The Azov battalion added that the long-term effects of the substance was still being investigated.
In addition, the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Integration of Ukraine to the EU, Ivanna Klympush, said on Twitter: “Russia… used unknown substances in Mariupol. Victims experienced respiratory failure, vestib-atactic syndrome. Most likely chemical weapons! This is red line beyond which world must destroy economy of despotism. We demand full embargo on all fuels from Russia and heavy weapons to Ukraine now!”
She added: “This morning Russians threatened to use ‘chemical troops’ against Mariupol’s defenders. Now Azov reports Russia did it. Russia will not stop until it is stopped!”
The UK Ministry of Defense had warned on Monday that Russia might soon use phosphorous bombs in Ukraine.
“Russian forces' prior use of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk Oblast raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies,” the British ministry said in its latest intelligence update.