Britain is trying to verify reports that Russia used chemical weapons in an attack on the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, London’s top diplomat said Monday.
“Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the population of Mariupol. We are urgently working with partners to verify details,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss wrote on Twitter.
“Any use of such weapons would be a heartless escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account.”
Ukrainian lawmaker Ivanna Klympush said Russia had used an “unknown substance” in Mariupol and people were suffering from respiratory problems. “Probably chem.weapons!” she tweeted.
Ukraine’s Azov battalion had claimed in a Telegram message earlier on Monday that a Russian drone had dropped a “toxic substance” on Ukrainian troops and civilians in Mariupol.
Police also claimed that people had respiratory and neurological problems.
The battalion’s founder Andrei Biletsky said three people were suffering from an unknown toxic substance.
“Three people have clear signs of poisoning from warfare chemicals, but without catastrophic consequences,” he said in a video address to Telegram.
AFP was unable to verify the claims.
The senior Donetsk separatist official Eduard Basurin had discussed the possibility of using chemical weapons against the southern port city that has been resisting Russian bombing for weeks.
Basurin said the besieging forces “can turn to chemical forces who will find a way to smoke the moles out of their dens,” Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.
Russia has denied committing war crimes during its offensive in Ukraine.
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