- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Unconfirmed reports suggest Russian forces used chemical weapons in an attack against troops in the besieged port city of Mariupol in Ukraine.
The reports come from claims made by Ukraine’s right-wing Azov volunteer regiment.
The battalion leader, Andriy Biletsky, claimed three people are showing signs of chemical poisoning, according to the Kyiv Independent.
Ukraine's parliament said on Twitter Russian troops were firing nitric acid in the Donetsk region, where Mariupol sits.
"This was reported by the patrol police. Locals are urged to prepare protective face masks soaked in soda solution," the parliament tweeted.
Kyiv Independent reported the chemical substance was distributed through a drone.
Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote on his Telegram channel reports about a chemical attack had not been confirmed and that he expected to provide details and clarifications later.
⚡️⚡️Azov regiment: Russia used poisonous substance against Ukrainian troops in Mariupol.
The substance has been distributed by a drone, and victims have shortness of breath and vestibulocerebellar ataxia.
It may be Russia's first known use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 11, 2022
'Deeply concerning' if reports are true
Australian officials are working to confirm reports of the attack, Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the reports are extremely concerning.
"If they are confirmed that will be a further wholesale breach of international law," Senator Payne told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
"(It's) a further indication of President Putin and Russia's absolute violation of every single value and every aspect of the rules-based global order which has stood us in such good stead for so many decades now."
British foreign secretary Liz Truss acknowledged the unverified claims on Twitter, saying the UK is working to verify details.
"Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account," she said.
Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with partners to verify details.
Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account.
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) April 11, 2022
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the US was aware of the reports of the potential attack, though according to CNBC, he said he could not confirm reports.
“These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine,” Kirby reportedly said.
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
He did not confirm whether chemical weapons had been used and he encouraged leaders around the world to impose strong sanctions on Moscow that would deter even talk of the use of such weapons.
"We treat this with the utmost seriousness," he said.
"I would like to remind world leaders that the possible use of chemical weapons by the Russian military has already been discussed. And already at that time it meant that it was necessary to react to the Russian aggression much harsher and faster."
Chilling threat hours before alleged chemical attack
Just hours before the alleged attack in Mariupol on April 11, Eduard Basurin, a spokesperson for Russian separatist forces in Donetsk, referenced using chemical weapons.
The statement was made with regards to the Azovstal steel mill, which Russian forces are trying to capture.
“There are underground floors (at Azovstal), and that’s why it makes no sense to storm this object now,” Basurin said according to the Kyiv Independent.
“We could have a lot of our soldiers killed, and the enemy won’t suffer casualties. That’s why currently we should figure out how to block this mill and find all ways in and out.
"And after that we should ask our chemical forces to find a way to smoke these moles out of their holes.”
It appears the comments were made on a Russian news site.
1,5 hours ago, AZOV announced the use of chemical weapons in Mariupol. 8 hours ago Russian puppet Basurin (“DPR” “pressecr”) live on Russian TV: It makes no sense to storm the underground fortifications of Azovstal in Mariupol, so we need to address chemical troops. pic.twitter.com/FFYbLUgYKG
— Dmytro Gurin, Ukrainian MP (@DmytroGurinMP) April 11, 2022
People were angered by the remarks, particularly in the wake of the potential chemical attack.
"You can already feel free to change Z to a real swastika. Openly switched to the methods of the Nazis," one person said on Twitter while sharing a clip of the interview with Basurin.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.