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25 Mar, 2022 13:45

Kremlin responds to claim it used banned munitions in Ukraine

Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of deploying deadly white phosphorus on the battlefield
Kremlin responds to claim it used banned munitions in Ukraine

Russia has denied that it used white phosphorus during its military assault on Ukraine, responding to accusations by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukrainian soldiers of using prohibited weapons – a claim that was similarly rebuked by Kiev.

The munitions, which cause deadly burns and are highly toxic, are banned under international law.

“Russia has never violated any international conventions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted on Friday.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, similarly claimed that Moscow had long ago disposed of its chemical weapons arsenal, and added that it was “disgraceful” to accuse Moscow of using chemical munitions in Ukraine.

Speaking to the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) member states on Thursday via video link, Zelensky claimed that “Russian troops used phosphorous bombs against civilians in Ukraine.” He provided no evidence to back up his assertion. 

Other Ukrainian officials have made similar allegations.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed in February that Ukrainian soldiers were “massively” using phosphorus munitions outside Kiev while trying to repel the Russian offensive. Zelensky later said that his country had “no chemical weapons or any other forms of weapons of mass destruction.”

Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocol had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.