Zelensky: Ukraine takes threat of possible Russian chemical weapon use ‘very seriously’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
In this image from video, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address Monday night that officials in his nation are closely watching the potential threat of chemical weapons use by Russia.

“One of the Russian occupiers’ speakers said that they might use chemical weapons against our defenders in Mariupol,” Zelensky said.

“We take it very seriously,” he added.

The comment came shortly after other Ukrainian officials said that Russia has already used chemical weapons in the area.

“ATTENTION! Chemical weapons are used against Ukrainian defenders in #Mariupol! russia openly crosses all boundaries of humanity and openly declares it,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said on Twitter.

The Azov Battalion, a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, also said individuals have developed “respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome” from a “poisonous substance of unknown origin.”

The Pentagon acknowledged the claims, but could not verify them.

“These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine,” press secretary John Kirby said.

In his address on Monday, Zelensky called for Western countries to implement an oil embargo on Russia for its actions. 

He also accused Russia of more war crimes, saying its forces left mines in areas they’ve been forced to retreat from in order to kill more Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

The Biden administration has said it would be investigating alleged crimes against Ukraine, with the White House previously saying it had a team in place that was preparing a response if reports of chemical weapons use prove to be true.

–Updated at 12:12 p.m.

Tags Chemical weapons Mariupol Russia-Ukraine war russian invasion of ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky war crimes

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