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Reuters: Ukraine says Russia's use of illegal tear gas on battlefield is increasing

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 18, 2024 8:56 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian artilleryman holds his gas mask at a position in Donetsk Oblast on Aug. 9, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Francis Farrell/The Kyiv Independent)
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Russian forces have been increasing their usage of riot control gas banned on the battlefield, Colonel Serhii Pakhomov, the acting head of the Ukrainian military's atomic, biological, and chemical defense forces, told Reuters in an interview published on April 18.

Ukrainian military officials have previously said that Russia is deploying chemical weapons on the battlefield in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The usage of riot control gas in war is also banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which Russia is a signatory of.

Pakhmov told Reuters that Ukraine had recorded at least 900 uses of the banned riot control gas by Russian forces in the last six months, out of a total of 1,400 times since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. The command of Ukraine's Support Forces said earlier in April that Russia's usage of prohibited chemical weapons has reached "systemic" levels.

Russia has been primarily using K-51, VOH, and RH-VO hand grenades loaded with CS, CN, and other gases, Pakhomov said.

"It's like pepper spray, it makes your eyes tear up. It's not lethal, but it disturbs and knocks you out. It makes it very difficult to carry out your duties once you've inhaled it," a soldier told Reuters after experiencing a gas attack earlier in the year.

Pakhomov said that around 500 Ukrainian soldiers have required medical attention after inhaling the gas, and at least one died as a result.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria Group of forces, said in March that Russia often employs riot control gas in an effort to try and clear trenches.

A Ukrainian military instructor told Reuters that its forces have been distributing gas masks and training soldiers on their proper usage.

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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