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Russia uses deadly chemical weapons against Ukrainian soldiers, experts confirm

Russia has been using special gas grenades with chloroacetophenone, a prohibited chemical warfare agent, to attack Ukrainian troops, according to Ukrainian military representatives and forensic experts.
RG-Vo
A Ukrainian military with Russian special gas RG-Vo grenades in his hands. Credit: Andrii Rudyk.

Russia is actively using chemical weapons against the Ukrainian military, according to Captain Andrii Rudyk, a representative of the Center for Research of Trophy and Advanced Weapons and Military Equipment of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The use of chemical weapons is a serious war crime and is prohibited by several international conventions to which Russia is still a signatory.

Russian troops use a new type of special RG-Vo gas grenades containing an irritant agent against Ukrainian soldiers, Andrii Rudyk stated at a briefing at the Military Media Center in Kyiv on 25 January. According to him, the Russian army first used such grenades in Ukraine in December 2023.

The name of the grenade RG-Vo stands for “hand grenade – poisonous substance” in Russian, which indicates its purpose. According to Andrii Rudyk, in December 2023, a total of 81 cases of the use of Russian grenades with poisonous substances were recorded.

“This grenade contains chloroacetophenone, an asphyxiating substance banned by the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. This poisonous gas is also prohibited for use in combat by the UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/2603 ‘Question of chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons’ of 1969. The Russian Federation is still a signatory to both documents,” Andrii Rudyk said.

Andrii Rudyk said that chloroacetophenone, which a Russian RG-Vo grenade contains, among other poisonous components, is a hazardous chemical warfare agent from the group of lacrimators. The lethal toxic dose of chloroacetophenone is 11 mg-min/l. Approximately 70 drops of chloroacetophenone are enough to kill an adult, Andrii Rudyk stated.

Experts from the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise (Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise) examined the Russian hand grenade marked RG-Vo (862-3-23) and confirmed that the object of study was manufactured industrially and was indeed a special gas grenade of Russian origin, the Ukrainian monitoring group Militarnyi reported.

Oleksandr Ruvin, Director of the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise, said that the internal structure of the grenade was assessed using an X-ray examination. Such a non-destructive method allowed Ukrainian experts to check the object for hidden threats. The relevant physical and chemical studies were conducted using modern equipment to analyze the grenade’s content.

“According to the results of the expert analysis, it was found that the substance from the grenade contained traces of an irritant chemical agent, namely chloroacetophenone (CN), which is an irritant chemical warfare agent,” Oleksandr Ruvin said.

The substance chloroacetophenone (CN) is prohibited for use as a chemical warfare agent under the Geneva Protocol, approved by the UN General Assembly in 1969 following its use during the Vietnam War. Chloroacetophenone acts directly on the mucous membranes, causing intense irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract with burning sensation and pain in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Respiratory irritation by CN causes sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, and a feeling of suffocation, Militarnyi reported.

The found sample of a special RG-Vo grenade was manufactured in Russia in 2023. Thus, in 2017, Russian authorities lied about fulfilling their obligations under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which required Russia to destroy the weapons and the production facilities where they were manufactured.

Previously, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that there were recorded 626 cases of Russian invaders using munitions containing toxic chemicals since the start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.

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