USA accuses Russia of using chemical weapons against Ukraine

Russia has violated an international ban on the use of chemical weapons, the US State Department announced Wednesday, May 1, as it laid out new sanctions against Moscow. The US diplomatic agency alleges that Russian troops have used chloropicrin, an irritating substance, against Ukrainian soldiers.

Consequently, the new US sanctions list includes the Russian Forces of Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Protection of the Ministry of Defence, the Russian Scientific Research Institute of Applied Acoustics, and the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Defence, as well as four companies linked to Russia's chemical and biological weapons programs.

"The use of such chemicals is not a single incident and is likely driven by Russian forces' attempts to dislodge Ukrainian troops from fortified positions and achieve tactical successes on the battlefield," the State Department said. According to the department, chloropicrin, a choking and tear-inducing substance, was also used in Russia to suppress mass protests within the country.

Classified as a controlled substance by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in The Hague, chloropicrin is a liquid whose vapours affect the skin and mucous membranes, causing uncontrollable muscle convulsions of the diaphragm in high concentrations. It was first used by German forces during World War I.

In addition to chloropicrin, Russian troops are using CS gas grenades on the battlefield, commonly known as "tear gas" or "Siren," Reuters reports referring to Ukrainian military statements.

CS gas is often used by police in Europe to manage public order during demonstrations, but its use during warfare is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention. While CS gas is not lethal, it can induce panic causing soldiers to leave their trenches, making them vulnerable to conventional weaponry.

According to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, at least 500 Ukrainian soldiers have received treatment for exposure to toxic substances, and one serviceman died after asphyxiating from tear gas.

  War in Ukraine, USA, Russia