The TOS-1A weapon system sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to create a powerful, high-temperature blast (Picture: Twitter/Rex)
The TOS-1A weapon system sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to create a powerful, high-temperature blast capable of destroying buildings and vaporising human bodies.
It comprises a fuel container and two charges, the first detonating to disperse the fuel over a wide area and the second igniting it in the air. This makes it deadly even for those in enclosed spaces.
While the weapons themselves are not banned, their use is strictly regulated by the laws of armed conflict.
TOS-1 Buratino (Heavy Flame Thrower System) multiple rocket launchers and thermobaric weapon on display during a parade (Picture: Getty Images)
Thermobaric weapons can destroy buildings and vaporise human bodies (Picture: Getty)
In a tweet, the MoD said its Russian counterpart ‘has confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine’.
Sergeant Sergey Gubarev fired the weapon in the northern Chernihiv region, according to Zvezdananews, which is understood to be the Russian state-owned TV network run by the defence ministry, The Times reports.
It quotes the report as saying: ‘With precise fire from the TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system, he suppressed enemy artillery and mortar crews, destroyed 14 weapons and military equipment, as well as more than 40 nationalists.’
The British MoD posted a video explaining the weapon system.
It says: ‘The TOS-1A is an armoured multiple rocket launcher that can launch rockets with thermobaric warheads.
‘It was used by Russian forces in both Afghanistan and Chechnya.
‘Thermobaric weapons use oxygen from the surrounding air to create a high temperature explosion.
‘They also have blast effects that last for longer than a conventional explosive.
‘The impact of the TOS-1A is devastating. It can destroy infrastructure and cause significant damage to internal organs and flash burns, resulting in death to those exposed.
‘Thermobaric weapons are not illegal, but their use is strictly regulated by the law of armed conflict.
‘They cannot be used against military targets in a way that may endanger the civilian population or in a way that the damage they would cause would be excessive to the military advantage gained or where they would cause unnecessary suffering.
‘Footage has shown that President Putin has deployed TOS-1A as part of its attack on Ukraine.
‘If President Putin purposefully uses the TOS-1A system against civilians, it would be illegal.’
Russia-Ukraine war: Everything you need to know
Over two million Ukrainian refugees have fled, as cities face shortages of food, water, heat, and medicine – with some having to resort to melting snow for water.
Countries have retaliated by imposing sanctions on Russia, while large companies like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have suspended business in the country.
However, despite these economic blows, Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t shown any signs of calling off the attack anytime soon.
It comes as the MoD said the Russian state ‘almost certainly maintains extensive links’ with Russian private military companies (PMCs) and is ‘likely deploying’ their mercenaries to Ukraine.
In an intelligence update, the MoD said: ‘Russian PMCs have been accused of committing human rights abuses in several countries, such as Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic, whilst operating on behalf of the Russian state.’
Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Defence Secretary said Moscow had made ‘significant’ efforts to bring the Wagner Group Ukraine.
The Wagner Group is a Russian mercenary organisation believed to be funded by a businessman with close links to Putin (Picture: AFP via Getty)
The Wagner Group is a Russian mercenary organisation believed to be funded by a businessman with close links to Putin.
Mr Wallace said the attempts to recruit them was a sign of ‘desperation’ from the Kremlin.
He told MPs: ‘We’ve seen significant amounts of effort to try and bring Wagner Group into Ukraine. Wagner Group being the wholly unacceptable mercenary company responsible for all sorts of atrocities in Africa and the Middle East.
‘And the fact that Russia is now trying to encourage them to take part in Ukraine, I think, is a telling sign. It doesn’t give us any comfort, but it is, nevertheless, a sign.’
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