US complicity in Ukraine’s chemical attacks?

In combat, CS is spread as an aerosol. At low concentrations, it irritates the eyes and upper respiratory tract. At high concentrations, it can cause burns to exposed skin and, in some cases, lead to paralysis of the respiratory and circulatory systems, resulting in death.

Lt-Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of the radiation, chemical and biological defence troops of the Russian armed forces, stated on Tuesday (May 28), that the Ukrainian forces had been systematically using poisonous substances and chemical riot-control agents with the tacit approval of Washington, Sputnik, a Russian media house, reported.

Kirillov added that, in numerous cases, Ukraine has been using chloropicrin, an irritant substance, often mixed with chloroacetophenone, in the settlements of Bogdanovka, Gorlovka, Kremenovka and Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) in the Donetsk region. When chloropicrin is mixed with chloroacetophenone, it creates a potent teargas, causing severe eye and respiratory irritation, and results in incapacitating individuals quickly.

Advertisement

Kirillov pointed out that chloroacetophenone is considered a chemical riot-control agent, while chloropicrin is listed under Schedule 3 of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Kirillov also alleged that the Ukrainian troops’ use of this toxic substance was evident from their possession of pre-prepared filtering gas masks, the appearance of yellow-green smoke after the Trade Unions House fire began and efforts to disguise the use of toxic chemicals as a result of the fire.

The Russian side has documented and confirmed Ukreaine’s deployment of munitions loaded with chloropicrin, besides other chemical irritants. American-made gas grenades which contained CS—an irritant chemical which is a white, solid, slightly volatile crystalline substance with a peppery smell that does not dissolve well in water, but dissolves moderately in alcohol and well in acetone and chloroform—were used in the Krasny Liman and Boguslav regions against Russian soldiers, Kirillov further alleged.

In combat, CS is spread as an aerosol. At low concentrations, it irritates the eyes and upper respiratory tract. At high concentrations, it can cause burns to exposed skin and, in some cases, lead to paralysis of the respiratory and circulatory systems, resulting in death.

Kirillov also alleged that hand grenades with chemical irritants, labeled Teren-6, were dropped from Ukrainian drones onto Russian troop positions and a stash of these munitions was found in Donetsk. According to testimony from Ukrainian prisoners of war, assault groups in the Ukrainian Armed Forces are equipped with these grenades.

The Russian expert noted that Ukrainian armed groups were using other chemical agents, as well. He mentioned instances where the combat chemical agent, BZ—a compound that acts as a hallucinogen and an incapacitating agent and was developed as a chemical weapon to cause confusion, hallucinations and disorientation—was used against Russian soldiers in August 2022 and silyl acid in February 2023. BZ (3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate) affects the central nervous system, leading to severe impairment of cognitive and motor functions. It is considered a non-lethal agent, intended to incapacitate rather than kill.

Kirillov expressed particular concern over statements from the Ukrainian military representatives about their possession of phosphorus organic compounds, including analogs of the combat chemical agent, Tabun (GA)—a toxic nerve agent from the 1930s that disrupts the nervous system, causing severe muscle contractions and potentially fatal overstimulation. “The requests from Ukraine for antidotes, gas masks and other protective equipment in unusually large quantities suggest plans for widespread use of toxic substances,” Kirillov said.

Additionally, Ukrainian nationalists continue their attempts to destroy chemically hazardous facilities in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. These actions pose a threat of chemical contamination to the civilian population in these regions. Kirillov reminded that industrial facilities, such as Zarya in Rubezhnoye, Azot in Severodonetsk and the Koksokhim plant in Avdeyevka, had been repeatedly targeted by massive missile strikes.

The US Pentagon is continuing to develop new non-lethal chemical weapons and their delivery systems. This includes things like 120mm mortar rounds, 155mm artillery shells and 120mm tank rounds, according to Kirillov at the briefing. He pointed out that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) overlooks the fact that the US still keeps highly toxic materials at its chemical weapons destruction sites.

Kirillov noted that the US was supposed to destroy its chemical weapons by 2007 according to OPCW deadlines. However, despite having the resources, the US only finished this task in 2023, after delaying twice due to financial, organizational and technical reasons. OPCW does not seem to acknowledge that the US still has some highly toxic substances at these facilities. The US has also created laws to regulate the use of chemical agents by its armed forces in various situations, according to Kirillov.

“Washington has not stopped using chemical agents but, instead, made their use legally possible. The US has a combined arms manual that outlines how non-lethal chemical weapons can be used by military units during special operations, humanitarian missions, counter-terrorism efforts and peacekeeping activities,” Kirillov explained. Previously, the US claimed it would use such weapons only in response to an enemy’s chemical attack. However, the new rules allow the US to use toxic chemicals on its own initiative,” he added.

According to Kirillov, the US spends at least $10 million each year to buy non-lethal chemical weapons for use in combat zones, according to the official. He also mentioned that the Pentagon was still working on developing new non-lethal chemical weapons and upgrading the ones they already had.