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Military: Russian forces using chemical weapons to storm Ocheretyne, situation 'difficult'

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 23, 2024 3:31 PM 3 min read
Servicemen with Ukraine's National Guard undergo training to storm enemy trenches using simulation equipment amid Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, on Feb. 29, 2024. (Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Russian forces are deploying chemical weapons in an attempt to capture the village of Ocheretyne in Donetsk Oblast, Nazar Voloshyn, the spokesperson for Ukraine's Khortytsia Group of Forces, said on April 23.

In a post on Telegram, Voloshyn said Moscow’s troops were using the "entire arsenal of weapons available… including chemical poisons" to attack Ukrainian positions, adding the situation was "difficult."

He did not specify which types of chemicals were being deployed, but hundreds of cases of the use of suffocating and tear gas grenades usually dropped from drones have been recorded since the start of the full-scale invasion, with the number of incidents increasing significantly in 2024.

Russian naval infantry units themselves confirmed they were using prohibited chemical weapons in the village of Krynky, located 30 kilometers northeast of Kherson, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on Dec. 23.

Riot control gasses such as tear gas are classed as chemical weapons when deployed on the battlefield and, as such, are prohibited in warfare under the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

Ocheretyne is a village some 50 kilometers south of Chasiv Yar, the Ukrainian town currently at the center of Russia’s military push to take more territory in Donetsk Oblast.

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Voloshyn said on April 22 that around 20,000 to 25,000 Russian soldiers were trying to storm Chasiv Yar and the settlements on the town's outskirts.

Chasiv Yar lies around 10 kilometers west of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast and 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Avdiivka, cities Russia captured in May 2023 and February 2024, respectively.

Russian troops have been focusing their efforts near Chasiv Yar, which they see as crucial for further advances toward Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk, and Sloviansk, the Ukrainian military said.

Ukrainian troops are fighting off Russian paratroopers with the 98th Guards Airborne Division's 217th Guards Airborne Regiment in the area near Chasiv Yar.

In an interview with NBC News published on April 21, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia will attempt to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9.

Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9, a heavily militarized holiday marking the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany during World War II.

Zelensky's comments align with those made by Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi on April 14, amid a deteriorating situation in the region as Ukrainian ammunition and supplies run short.

The Counteroffensive: Russia’s rising chemical weapons use in Ukraine
Editor’s Note: This article was published by the blog “The Counteroffensive with Tim Mak” on March 22, 2024, and has been re-published by the Kyiv Independent with permission. To subscribe to “The Counteroffensive,” click here. Aahed Bakkora will never forget the night that birds began falling out…
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