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Chemical weapons in Ukraine?: Fear of Putin’s poison gas – Politics

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On paper, the situation is clear. The use of chemical weapons has been prohibited since 1997. 191 countries have committed themselves not to produce or use this type of weapon. Russia joined the deal in 1997 as the largest chemical-weapons-owning state at the time. However, the country has not completely destroyed its stocks to date.

Attacks on political opponents – the March 2018 attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK using the nerve agent Novichok and two years later the attempt to assassinate Russian opposition politician and critic of President Vladimir Putin Alexei Navalny with Novichok – showed that Russia continued to work on chemical weapons. Now the government in Washington fears that weapons of mass destruction may be used in Ukraine.

Warnings since mid-February

In mid-February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned against such an operation at the UN Security Council in New York. The Russians, he said, could build a pretext for an attack in order to come to the aid of allegedly threatened Russian citizens in Ukraine.

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“This could be a violent event that Russia will bring against Ukraine, or an outrageous accusation that Russia will bring against the Ukrainian government,” Blinken said. For example, an alleged terrorist attack in Russia, the “fictitious discovery of a mass grave” and accusations of genocide or a simulated or real attack with chemical weapons are possible.

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The Russian army has now invaded Ukraine. But the armed forces are meeting much more resistance than they apparently expected. On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, repeated warnings that Russia could use chemical or biological weapons.

Russia supports the regime in Syria

Psaki stated that Russia has done this time and time again. In addition, the Moscow government supports Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has “repeatedly used chemical weapons.”

The fact that the Syrian ruler repeatedly attacked his own people with poison gas is vehemently denied by himself and by Russia, his closest ally. Independent organizations such as the United Nations (UN) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have shown in their investigations that Assad’s air force did attack villages and towns with prohibited warfare agents throughout the world, such as chlorine gas or the nerve agent sarin.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen]

This was the case, for example, in February 2018. According to an OPCW report, chemical weapons were used in Sarakib at that time. In April 2017, residents of Khan Sheikhoun were attacked. Sarin has killed dozens of people. In August 2013, rockets loaded with deadly poison killed hundreds of civilians in Ghouta, near Damascus.

“Operation false flag?”

The US warnings about the use of chemical weapons come in response to Russian accusations that the United States is backing a biological weapons program in Ukraine. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov reiterated the accusation Thursday, despite the UN saying it had no knowledge of weapons of mass destruction allegedly made in Ukraine.

On the other hand, Konashenkov said that documents on US military and biological activities in Ukraine had been received. The goal of the Pentagon-funded research is to develop “a mechanism for the stealthy spread of deadly pathogens.”

The US government sees a “clear pattern” in this, as Psaki wrote on Twitter. “Now that Russia has made these false claims, we all need to be alert that Russia may be using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or conducting a false flag operation.”

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