Are Chemical Weapons Being Used in Ukraine?

Chemical Weapons Mask WMD
July 10, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineWar In UkraineChemical WeaponsWMD

Are Chemical Weapons Being Used in Ukraine?

On Monday, Russian Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov claimed the Russian military found a Ukrainian chemical weapons lab near Avdeyevka, accusing Kyiv of producing toxic agents.


Summary and Key Points: On Monday, Russian Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov claimed the Russian military found a Ukrainian chemical weapons lab near Avdeyevka, accusing Kyiv of producing toxic agents.



-This allegation, reported by state-run media TASS, lacks independent verification and follows a pattern of unsubstantiated claims by Moscow. Despite being signatories of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, both Russia and the U.S. have faced delays in destroying their chemical stockpiles.

-The U.S. completed its destruction in July 2023, while Russia claimed to have done so in 2017, though this is disputed. Experts argue that Russia uses misinformation to justify its actions in Ukraine, with no credible evidence supporting their allegations against Kyiv.

Ukraine and Chemical Weapons: What Is Going On? 

A Russian official on Monday told state-run media that the Russian military had found a Ukrainian chemical weapons laboratory. He accused Kyiv of producing toxic agents.

"During engineering reconnaissance in one of the locations near Avdeyevka, a laboratory with chemical equipment was found on the ground floor of a destroyed building in the industrial zone," Chief of Russia’s Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Troops Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov said, TASS reported.

Kirillov has repeatedly suggested that the Russian military has no stockpiles of chemical weapons, while also claiming U.S.-supplied chemical weapons have been found in Ukraine.

There is no confirmation to back any of Moscow’s numerous claims on the topic, but they are common fodder for Russian officials. The Kremlin made such claims even before it launched its unprovoked invasion two and a half years ago.

Russia and the U.S. Maintain Stockpiles of Chemical Weapons 

The United States and Russia are each signatories to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which specifically prohibits the production, stockpiling, or use of chemical weapons. Moreover, it requires that all of the 193 signatory states destroy their existing chemical weapons.

The United States and Russia are among the nations that failed to meet some of the timelines established by the Convention, and each has accused the other of failing to live up to the obligations of the treaty. Last July, the United States said it finally met the goal of destroying its last stockpiles of chemical weapons.

"The United States has successfully completed destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile, marking a major step forward under the Chemical Weapons Convention," Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a July 7, 2023 post on X.

Russia announced in 2017 that it had destroyed its entire chemical weapons stockpile, but there has been speculation this might not be true. And as Polygraph reported earlier this year, U.S. efforts took longer for good reason.

"The U.S. military has spent years developing methods to destroy its chemical weapons without causing toxic pollution and health effects. It later had to take more time to improve safety measures, after making mistakes and coming under heavy criticism," Polygraph reported. "Russia's method of chemical weapons destruction, while faster, produced large quantities of toxic waste as a byproduct."

Has Russia Used Chemical Weapons?

Russia has continued to accuse Kyiv of using and/or stockpiling chemical weapons, without evidence. The claims have met pushback from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which issued a letter signed by 54 states (including the U.S. and Ukraine) that disputed Moscow's allegations.

"There has not been a single case in which any credible evidence has been presented. Nor has there been any case where these allegations turned out to be correct or the predicted events actually and verifiably happened. We judge that Russia made these claims with the sole purpose of trying to justify its war of aggression. There is no substance behind these claims. They are part of an elaborate, malicious disinformation campaign launched by Russia both prior to the attack on Ukraine and afterwards, encompassing untrue allegations regarding chemical, biological and radiological weapons," the letter read.

In May, the U.S. formally accused Russia of employing chemical weapons – which puts into question Moscow's claims that it destroyed its stockpiles. If Washington's accusation is justified, it would seem that Russia is now trying to deflect its own use of the banned weapons by arguing that Ukraine is the side using them.


Experts have repeatedly warned that Russia engages in misinformation campaigns to justify its ongoing conflict, and these cover far more than just chemical weapons. The Kremlin claimed that a March terrorist attack carried out by elements of ISIS-K had ties to Kyiv, and Moscow has repeatedly warned that Ukraine may use a dirty bomb.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].

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