Last night a Ukrainian MP said Russia used an “unknown substance” in the besieged city of Mariupol. She claimed the substance used could be chemical weapons. Here’s everything you need to know
Image: via REUTERS)
Ukraine has claimed Russia used a suspected chemical weapon in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Troops defending the city are reportedly suffering from respiratory failure, dizziness and other symptoms as a result of the “unknown substance.”
On Monday night Ivanna Klympush, a Ukrainian MP, tweeted: “Russia used an unknown substance 1.5 hours ago #Mariupol.
“Victims experience respiratory arrest, vestibular atactic syndrome. Most likely chemical weapons!
“That is the red line beyond which the economy of despotism must be destroyed. We call for a total embargo on all fuels #RU &Heavy Weapons 2UA now!”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary said Britain was “working urgently” to verify the reports.
Liz Truss was one of the first senior Western politicians to speak out last night as Britain warned that “all options are on the table” if chemical weapons are confirmed.
Are chemical weapons banned in war?
Various treaties and conventions outline prohibitions on the use of chemicals in warfare. The Protocol on the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Noxious or Other Gases and Bacteriological Methods of Warfare in War, better known as the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts.
The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of chemical weapons in warfare and the development, manufacture, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of such weapons.
Did Russia use a chemical weapon in Ukraine?
Not clear. Evidence is being examined, but if white phosphorus was used, as some reports have claimed, it is not classified as a chemical weapon – although it can cause breathing difficulties and severe burns.
Defenders of warfare use insist that it has legitimate utility in creating physical smokescreens for troops, making it difficult for enemies to spot them. However, it should not be used in civilian areas.
Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)
What did the British government say?
Armed Forces Secretary James Heappey has threatened repercussions against Vladimir Putin’s regime if Russian forces use chemical weapons in Ukraine. But he did not spell out what they might be.
“I think it’s useful to maintain some ambiguity about exactly what the response would be. But let’s be clear, if they’re used at all, President Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of Western response,” he said.
Secretary of State Liz Truss tweeted: “Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime accountable.”
Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)
Could Western allies enforce a no-fly zone in response?
NATO and alliance leaders have repeatedly ruled out sending coalition warplanes into contested airspace over Ukraine. There is an obvious risk to RAF or US aircrews – and their equipment – when operating over the war zone. But the broader, geopolitical risk is far worse.
The only reason to engage in air policing missions is to stop Russian planes from conducting bombing raids – and that means being prepared to shoot down those jets.
That would be seen by Moscow as an act of war and, if carried out consistently, could trigger World War III – a conflict between nuclear powers that nobody wants.
Didn’t Joe Biden promise to “react in kind” to a chemical attack?
The US President committed a series of gaffes during his three-day trip to Europe last month.
After talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, he was asked whether Russia’s use of chemical weapons would trigger a military response from NATO.
Bizarrely, Mr. Biden replied, “It would elicit a response in kind.” He added, “We would make that decision at that point.” The type of reaction depends on the type of use.”
White House officials were quick to insist that he was not suggesting that NATO would retaliate with a chemical weapons atrocity of its own. But the Alliance would strike back.
AFP via Getty Images)
Could NATO troops be sent to Ukraine?
Ultimately, NATO could turn around and decide to send troops to Ukraine – although all Alliance leaders and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have repeatedly stressed that this will not happen.
However, this is highly unlikely given the coalition’s staunch opposition to the creation of a no-fly zone. If it doesn’t get fighter jets airborne, it’s unlikely to get troops’ boots on the ground.
What about the UN?
Sentencing at the United Nations in New York would come swiftly, with Ukrainian, American and British envoys likely to lead the way.
But there would be no Security Council resolution censuring Russia; It is one of the “P5” countries that has permanent membership of the Security Council – the others are Britain, the US, France and Russia. All P5 nations have a veto on resolutions – meaning they can block them. Russia would inevitably veto and frustrate such a resolution.
More equipment for Ukraine?
Crucially, NATO countries could decide that a red line has been crossed and use this as a catalyst to ship more equipment to Ukraine. Many of the 30 members of the alliance want to offer more weapons anyway, so could offer more equipment and say the move was in response to a chemical weapons attack.
Many NATO leaders are still bitter that then-US President Barack Obama said in 2013 that using chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” – and then did nothing to help Bashar al-Assad’s regime punish when it committed just such an atrocity. Mr. Biden was Mr. Obama’s Vice President at the time and prides himself on his foreign policy expertise.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/you-need-know-chemical-weapons-26698752 Everything you need to know about chemical weapons as Russia uses 'unknown substance' in Mariupol - World News