There are claims that Mariupol may have been the victim of a chemical weapons attack (Picture: Reuters)
Ukrainian officials are claiming that Russia has dropped a chemical weapon on Mariupol.
Troops are said to be suffering dizziness, breathing problems and other symptoms from the ‘unknown substance’, which is said to have been distributed via a drone.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned in his daily video address late on Monday that Russia forces could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, but did not confirm that they have been already used.
But unverified reports are suggesting that an ‘unknown substance’ was used in the besieged southern port city, which is expected to fall into Russian hands imminently.
Ukrainian media cited the far-right Azov regiment in saying Russia had used a ‘poisonous substance against Ukrainian troops in Mariupol’.
Reports claimed the substance was distributed by a drone, and victims have had shortness of breath and other symptoms.
Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush tweeted: ‘1,5hr ago, (Russia) used unknown substance in #Mariupol. Victims experience respiratory failure, vestib.-atactic syndrome. Most likely chem.weapons! This is red line beyond which the world must destroy economy of despotism.
‘We demand full embargo on all fuels from (Russia) &heavy weapons 2UA now!
‘The victims suffered from respiratory failure and vestibulo-attack syndrome.’
It comes after the UK’s Ministry of Defence said it fears that Putin could use banned white phosphorus munitions in a renewed push to take Mariupol, where the Mayor fears 10,000 civilians are already dead.
The intelligence assessment published on Monday said: ‘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 USA made a similar warning last month, which has been echoed by other states.
The Kremlin has dismissed the statements as ‘diversion tactics’. Russia has also long been accused of using chemical weapons in Syria and is suspected of poisoning a number of dissidents, including in the UK.
It is unclear how the west will respond to the latest allegation of an atrocity in Ukraine – but the use of chemical weapons had widely been seen as a possible red line.
Russia has consistently denied virtually all allegations of war crimes and other atrocities and appears likely to also do so in this instance.
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