Russia may use phosphorus munitions in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol after the weapons were purportedly deployed in the eastern province of Donetsk, the UK’s Ministry of Defense has warned.
“Russia’s prior use of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk Oblast raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies,” the ministry said in its latest defense intelligence update issued on Twitter.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 11 April 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/3RYc4QJBuG
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 11, 2022
“Russian shelling has continued in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with Ukrainian forces repulsing several assaults destroying Russia tanks, vehicles, and artillery equipment,” the update added.
The Ministry of Defense also highlighted that Russia’s continued use of “unguided bombs” would likely lead to more attacks on civilians in Mariupol, as they restrict the capacity to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes.
Mariupol has been subjected to some of the most intense bombings since the invasion began, with over 130,000 inhabitants stranded in the city without food, heat, electricity, or water.
The new development comes as Russia is being accused of war crimes in Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelensky claiming that the Kremlin is planning a new offensive in the country’s east.
After purportedly choosing General Alexander Dvornikov to oversee the Donbas campaign, concerns are increasing that Russia will unleash even more powerful weapons on Ukraine’s towns and cities.
General Dvornikov, 60, is known for his ruthlessness as the head of Russian forces deployed to Syria in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s administration during the country’s terrible civil war, which saw Aleppo devastated by bombing and intense battle.
Likewise, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has threatened that if Kremlin’s attacks on Ukraine’s east and port cities are successful, Russian forces will advance to Kyiv.
What Are Phosphorus Munitions?
White phosphorus is a hazardous, wax-like material formed from phosphate rocks that are yellow or colorless. It has a unique odor, which some people have compared to that of garlic.
It rains down on enemies and burns them when used as a weapon. It may also produce massive smokescreens and is extremely difficult to extinguish once lit.
Although phosphorus is not classified as a chemical weapon under the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention, its use in warfare is expected to be strictly regulated under international law. However, using white phosphorus near civilians is prohibited.
Ukraine has previously accused Russia of employing phosphorus bombs in the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk in the east of the country.
Since the invasion began in 2014, the area has been the epicenter of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and huge percentages of the people have fled the region. However, unlike the Donbas, Mariupol is primarily a residential city with few on-the-ground battles since the invasion began.
According to National Public Radio (NPR), the US military also admitted to employing white phosphorus in the battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2009.
It has also been accused of being used by US and Russian soldiers in Syria. It was also used in the 2008 Gaza conflict, but Israel claimed to have stopped using it in 2013.
After more than a month of shelling, Ukrainian officials have already stated that little of the once-thriving port city remains. Last month, the Mariupol City Council stated that the region had been degraded to “ashes of a dead land” due to constant bombardment.
In a video address to South Korea’s parliament on Monday, President Zelensky said: “Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive.”
Furthermore, Western countries have long claimed that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine. Chemical weapons usage in the Ukraine conflict, according to the US, would result in a strong retaliation. The Ukrainian government, as well as numerous Western countries, notably the United States, have accused Russian troops of war crimes.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, paid a surprise visit to Kyiv over the weekend and met with Zelensky.
Following a secret meeting between the two leaders, Johnson’s administration announced that Britain will supply the Ukrainian military with 120 armored vehicles and modern anti-ship missile systems. On Friday, Johnson also offered £100 million ($130 million) in equipment to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry announced that its forces had destroyed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems in a hangar on the outskirts of Dnipro that had been given to Ukraine by a European country.