Russia Admits Using Prohibited Chemical Weapons on Ukrainian Troops


Photo: illustrative, General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russian forces have openly acknowledged the use of prohibited chemical weapons against Ukrainian troops, even sharing a video of the weapons in action. The Black Sea Fleet's 810th Naval Infantry Brigade revealed this information in a detailed post on Telegram, describing a "radical change in tactics" employed against Kyiv’s forces in Krynky, located on the left bank of the Dnipro River near Kherson.

According to the post, elements of the brigade have adopted a new tactic involving the use of drones to drop K-51 grenades onto Ukrainian positions. This method aims to force Ukrainian troops out of trenches and expose them to small arms fire. The brigade shared footage of a drone dropping one of these grenades onto a Ukrainian position in a separate post.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes that the K-51 aerosol grenades, filled with irritant CS gas, a type of tear gas used for riot control, have been used by Russian forces against Ukrainian positions. The use of riot control agents (RCAs), including CS gas, as a method of warfare is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and Russia has been a state party to the CWC since 1997. ISW previously observed the use of K-51 grenades by Russian forces against Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast in November 2022.

In a recent development, Russia lost its bid for re-election to the decision-making body of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) chemical watchdog. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated Moscow's "isolation" on the world stage as Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania competed for three seats on the OPCW Executive Council, with Russia ultimately being unsuccessful.

Russia received the fewest votes, meaning it has no seat on the board for the first time in the organisation's history.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its efforts to rid the world of the scourge of chemical weapons.

It played a key role during the Syria civil war when Damascus agreed to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal and ship it for destruction under the aegis of the OPCW.

This deal stopped Barack Obama from launching military action after a chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus that crossed the “red line” set by the then US president.

In July, the OPCW was able to announce the milestone that all the world's declared stockpiles of chemical weapons were “verified as irreversibly destroyed.”

The United States had been the last of the signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into effect in 1997, to destroy its stock.