The Azov battalion, operating in Mariupol, has alleged a Russian chemical warfare attack on the Azovstal iron and steel plant. Mariupol, which has been hotly contested for the past month, has been almost completely destroyed. President Zelenskyy has made it central to his speeches about Ukraine’s defense, and Russian officials have hinted that taking Mariupol could embolden a new attack on Kyiv.
The alleged attack came shortly after two key developments; one, border regions of Russia, including occupied Crimea, were placed on the ‘yellow’ level of a potential terrorist threat. Whether in preparation for claims of a Ukrainian false flag or as a pretext to warn ahead of its chemical warfare, the announcement was timed just a few hours before the chemical weapons use.
Additionally, officials from the LNR called publicly for the use of chemical weapons, claiming Russia’s chemical corps were needed to ‘smoke out’ the defenders like moles. Others considered the use of flooding, but evidently, Russia made its choice.
It is unclear precisely what agent was used. However, though the internet blew up with allegations of Sarin gas, there were reportedly no fatalities, with only three people showing signs of chemical poisoning. Hence, the attack could have been an exaggerated tear gas attack. Yet, on the other hand, with notorious Russian general Aleksandr Dvornikov now in command of the Donbas offensive, the likelihood of chemical agents such as those enabled by Russia for use by Assad forces in Syria is high.
The United States and the United Kingdom, along with Ukraine, have each launched investigations. The United States, through President Biden, had recently promised a response ‘in kind’ should Russia employ chemical warfare.
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