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Reports of US monitoring of a possible attack with chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia – National

The Pentagon says it is closely monitoring reports of what could be Russia’s first use of chemical weapons in Ukraine’s ongoing war – a potential red line in the conflict.

Speaking to Global News on Monday night, spokesman John Kirby said that if confirmed, the report by Ukrainian fighters on a chemical weapons attack in the heavily besieged city of Mariupol was “deeply alarming”.

“We cannot confirm at this time and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the e-mail said in a statement on what Kirby called “social media reports.”

The Azov Battalion, a nationalist military unit fighting to protect Mariupol, announced on its social media channels late Monday night that a “poisonous substance” had been dumped from a Russian drone earlier that evening.

Read more: Tens of thousands killed in Mariupol, Zelenski said amid a request to South Korea for weapons

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It says that the unknown substance caused the victims respiratory failure and symptoms of vestibulo-atactic syndrome, a neurological disorder.

Battalion leader Andriy Biletsky said in a video published in the Telegram that three victims showed signs of chemical poisoning, but added that he expected them to recover without any “catastrophic consequences” for their health. He did not say whether the victims were soldiers or civilians.

Ukrainian lawmaker Ivanna Klympush also reported on the attack on social media, citing Azov’s report, calling the potential use of chemical weapons a “red line” to be met with international action.

2/2 This morning #Russians threatened to use “chemical troops” against the defenders of Mariupol. Now #Azov reports that #RU has done it. #Russia will not stop until it is stopped!

– Ivanna Klimpush (@IKlympush) April 11, 2022

Azov’s report was also quoted by the Mariupol Municipal Council, which shared the battalion’s publication on its Telegram page.

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A confirmed Twitter account of the Strategic Communications Directorate of the Chief of Defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that chemical weapons “against Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in Mariupol” had been used, but no further details were provided.

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Global News was unable to independently verify the report of the attack or the alleged symptoms of the victims. Requests for comment from the Ministry of Defense, Defense and Foreign Ministry of Ukraine were not returned.

No one from the Azov Battalion provided evidence to support the alleged attack.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said her government was working “urgently” with partners to check the details.

“Any use of such weapons would be a gross escalation in this conflict, and we will hold Putin and his regime accountable,” she said on Twitter.

It is reported that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on Mariupol residents. We work urgently with partners to check the details.

Any use of such weapons would be a gross escalation in this conflict, and we will hold Putin and his regime accountable.

– Liz Truss (@trussliz) April 11, 2022

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NATO and Western leaders have been warning for weeks that Russia is potentially preparing to use chemical weapons in its long halt to the invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden said last month that such an attack on Russia “would provoke a response in kind” from the military alliance.

Moscow has said it plans to use chemical weapons. Instead, she accused Ukraine of planning such an attack on Russian forces, which the West said was a likely pretext for Russia.

However, many Ukrainian officials on Monday cited comments from Russian media by Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, who suggested “chemical troops” be stationed in Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky referred to these comments in a late-night video address, saying officials were taking the possibility of chemical weapons “most seriously”.

1:51 Western Allies Promise Action If Russia Uses Chemical Weapons in Ukraine Western Allies Promise Action If Russia Uses Chemical Weapons in Ukraine – March 24, 2022

Zelenski said earlier on Monday that “tens of thousands” of people had been killed in Mariupol alone due to constant Russian shelling and rocket attacks.

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Mayor Vadim Boychenko told the Associated Press that the death toll was more than 10,000, while about 120,000 civilians needed food, water, heat and communications.

The death toll has not been confirmed, although widespread damage has been documented by civilians and local journalists. The southeastern port city is considered a key destination for Moscow.

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