“Today we learned from the occupiers that they are preparing for a new stage of terror against us and our soldiers. One of their spokespersons said that they are considering using chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol. We take it very seriously,” Zelenskyj said in his address to Ukrainians overnight, referring to comments by Eduard Basurin from the ranks of Donetsk militants coordinated by Russia. He said on Monday that he was no need to attack the fortifications of the Azovstal factory in the traditional way and that it was necessary to “turn to chemical units”.
However, the president did not confirm the Azov Battalion’s previous claim that chemical weapons had already occurred in Mariupol. Port defenders said Russian troops used “a substance of unknown origin, which they dropped from an unmanned aircraft.” According to the battalion, the victims of the alleged chemical attack have difficulty breathing and moving.
“As for the practical side of the attack, the (damage) is not huge. Three people show clear symptoms of chemical warfare poisoning, but without catastrophic consequences,” regiment commander Andriy Bileckyj said. the Russians fail to conquer Mariupol and have no choice but to use the prohibited weapons indiscriminately.
Basurin denied the use of such weapons.
It could have been phosphorus ammunition
Ukrainian authorities are verifying the Azov Regiment’s claims, the Defense Ministry said. “There is a theory that it could be phosphorus munitions,” said MP Hanna Malyar, who said official information would follow.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said London was working with partners to verify reports of a possible chemical attack. He sees the possible use of such weapons as a ruthless escalation of the conflict. The Pentagon also said it was monitoring the situation closely, not yet confirming the use of chemicals at the front.
Mariupol has been besieged by the Russians for over forty days. The strategically located port city is devastated by Russian bombardment, with authorities saying at least 10,000 civilians have died since the invasion.
Zelensky believes that the Ukrainian army will receive the heavy weapons needed to break the siege of Mariupol. However, he pointed out that the more Western countries hesitate to get supplies, the more Ukrainians lose their lives.
According to Zelenský, Russia is gathering tens of thousands of troops in eastern Ukraine for a new offensive. A decisive battle awaits the country, he said. He therefore called on world politicians to impose new sanctions on Moscow. Although European countries are reducing their dependence on Russian gas and oil, they have not yet agreed on an immediate halt to their imports.
According to the local military headquarters, Russian shelling in the Donetsk region caused three more casualties and eight people were injured.
British correspondents predict that the escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine will take place in the next two to three weeks. The offensive remains concentrated on Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Mykolaiv and again also on Kramatorsk. In order to strengthen the eastern front, Russia is withdrawing its troops from Belarus, according to a report by the British Ministry of Defence.
Meanwhile, Russia on Tuesday evening shelled the Khmelnytsky region in western Ukraine, where Moscow said the strikes destroyed an ammunition depot and an aircraft hangar at the military airport of Starokostantyniv. It is located about 220 kilometers east of Lviv. According to the Ukrainian regional administration, the resulting fire was extinguished and reported no damage to military equipment.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the attacks also hit an ammunition depot near the village of Havrylivka in the Kyiv region. This information has not been confirmed by the Ukrainian side.
Systematic rape in Buče
The British BBC testified to a number of women raped by Russian soldiers in Buč. Some testimonies from the recently occupied city show signs of genocidal rape.
Ukrainian ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said authorities had documented several cases in which occupiers raped women, killed their men or destroyed homes. “About twenty-five girls and women between the ages of 14 and 24 were systematically raped in one of Buč’s cellars during the occupation. Nine of them are pregnant,” she described.
According to her, Russian soldiers told the girls and women concerned that they would rape them until “they have no sexual contact with a man, which will prevent them from conceiving Ukrainian children”.