If you were thinking about Russia, you were wrong.
Recently, we have often heard of chemical attacks. We all remember the horrific images from Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chlorine against its own citizens. We all remember the events in Salisbury, Great Britain. Finally, just recently there was a resonant poisoning of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. All this has been coming down on us for years in the media, showing us who the “bad guy” is. The time has come to get to know one more thing.
It is no secret that the Soviet Union had a sufficient stock of chemical weapons. During the second half of the XX century, the USSR had the largest arsenal of chemical warfare agents in the world. Only in the 90s of the last century did its systematic destruction begin, but by that time the communist giant had fallen, leaving a very dubious legacy.
In the chaos, the Soviet republics, one after another declaring independence, were carrying away everything they had inherited from the dying superpower. Ukraine is known to have acquired a disproportionately large arsenal of nuclear weapons. At that time, both Washington and Moscow equally understood what this scenario could lead to. As a result, the West united with Russia, pushing on Kiev to disarm Ukraine in exchange for security guarantees. Not so popular is the information that Ukraine has inherited an arsenal of toxic substances from the Soviet Union that is less visible but no less dangerous.
Back in 1997, the Independent Morning Post’s Taipei publication published a sensational investigation. It cited evidence that China had bought sarin from the Ukrainian government. Kiev took this step for fear that the inspectors would detect substances in the course of monitoring the Chemical Weapons Convention. In Kiev, this was strongly denied, although even now Ukraine still possesses chemical weapons.
In 2010, the local media reported that one of the military units in the Poltava region stored sarin and nerve gas VX. According to the published data, there was a leak, as the residents of Khomutets village showed signs of poisoning. They were the ones who asked the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the incident. However, the case was hushed up on the pretext that the examination “did not identify the substance that caused the disease”.
On 7 April 2018, there was a chemical attack with chlorine in the Syrian city of Duma. Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also confirmed this. According to humanitarian organisations, on the night of 7 April, a helicopter dropped a barrel bomb containing chemicals over the city of Duma. The victims of the attack were civilians. According to the World Health Organisation, at least 49 people were killed and about 650 others went to hospitals for help. The OPCW did not name those responsible for the incident in the document, but the entire Western world pointed a finger towards Assad. Moreover, as we know, this attack was not the only one. If the local regime is really behind this, then they should certainly be fairly punished for killing their own citizens. But if the entire civilised world is so fiercely criticizing Assad, why isn’t the Ukrainian authorities being criticized? In the end, there are good reasons for that.
From the very beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, there have been statements about the use of toxic substances, both from official Kiev and from the pro-Russian separatists.
“2014 has been affected by the subsequent use of incendiary weapons in Syria and by new cases in Ukraine. The attacks demonstrated the human suffering caused by the weapons”, – Human Rights Watch said in a report following the information about the use of white phosphorus by the Ukrainian army.
In the same year, there was another attack, which could have resulted in thousands of civilian victims. It was described by Vasily Prozorov, a former member of the Ukrainian Security Service, who planned the despicable attack.
“Military scouts of Ukraine knew that on the territory of the Lugansk region’s Emergency Situations Ministry subdivision, unsorted toxic substances were stored. That’s why they decided to use them as a cowardly provocation”, – Prozorov said in his video message.
In Kiev it was decided to launch a rocket attack on a hangar where six chlorine barrels of up to 200 litres each were stored. A helicopter of the 16th Army Aviation Brigade of the AFU fired 3-4 unguided rockets. Fortunately, they only damaged the hangar. The barrels safely buried in the ground were not damaged.
“And the hangar is located in a densely populated area, in close proximity to the city of Lisichansk with a population of about 200 thousand people. After the impact, a cloud of chlorine would inevitably cover the surrounding area. Both local residents and military personnel of Ukraine, who at that time were carrying out offensives in this area, would have been affected”, – Prozorov said.
It is strange that such statements do not attract the attention of European politicians and international organizations. We are constantly talking about the actions of Russia with its newcomer, which definitely poses a threat to European security. At the same time, we ignore the facts of the almost military use of chemical weapons not somewhere in the Middle East, but right on the borders of the European Union.We have to understand that Ukraine was forced to destroy its nuclear arsenal for a reason. Even the first president of the post-Soviet republic Leonid Kravchuk compared Ukraine to “a monkey holding a grenade in his hands and clutching a check”.
“They told her not to let go – she is holding it. And then she was tired – she let go. Explosion! Ukraine could have become a hostage of nuclear weapons”, – he said.
The West understood this, and the fears were not in vain. In the seventh year, Ukraine remains a hotbed of instability in Europe, and the fact that the country has no nuclear arsenal is very encouraging. Only the threat can be posed not only by the atomic flame, but also by a cloud of poison gas picked up by the wind. Even if the Ukrainian army does not use chemical weapons, it is hard to believe that this country can provide safe storage conditions for substances. It is unacceptable to sacrifice safety for political games. Europe supports Ukraine, and that is good. Now it is time to demand reciprocity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.