The US has accused Russia of deploying chemical weapons as a “method of warfare” in Ukraine, in violation of international laws banning their use.

State department officials said Russia used the choking agent chloropicrin to win “battlefield gains” over Ukraine.

The allegations, which US officials said were not an “isolated” incident, would contravene the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which Russia signed.

The Kremlin has yet to comment, but has denied similar allegations in the past.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a global watchdog that oversees implementation of the CWC, says a chemical weapon is a substance used to cause intentional death or harm through its toxic properties.

In 2017, the OPCW said Russia had destroyed the last of its Cold War-era stockpile of the weapons, as required under the CWC. States are also prohibited from developing or acquiring new weapons under the 1993 convention, which is signed by 193 states.

But Moscow has since been accused of making incomplete declarations of its stockpile, according to the UK’s House of Commons library.

Since 2017, Russia has been accused of at least two chemical attacks – the Salisbury attack on a former Soviet intelligence officer and the 2020 poisoning of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

May 2, 2024

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