TechEscalating use of banned chemical weapons by Russians in Ukrainian invasion: A troubling tale

Escalating use of banned chemical weapons by Russians in Ukrainian invasion: A troubling tale

K-51 Grenade
K-51 Grenade
Images source: © Licensor
5:27 PM EST, January 14, 2024

Defense Express reports escalating instances of Russian forces employing chemical weapons, actions prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is a signatory. From the outset of 2024, the invader has deployed, among other items, K-51 grenades filled with irritant CS (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile) gas at least 51 times. Since the war sparked, over 620 instances of this banned weaponry have been used by the Russian military.

It's worth noting that there have been countless instances of Russia's use of such banned weaponry circulating online, with most referencing the earlier mentioned K-51 grenades. As Defense Express reports, these attacks are escalating, becoming increasingly common. Russians also make use of makeshift explosives, to which they add irritants. The ISW also underscores the evidence of harmful chemical substances present in artillery bombardments.

The Unlawful Use of Chemical Weapons

The ISW identifies the principal chemical weapon in the Russian arsenal as K-51 grenades filled with CS gas. The CS gas is an organic compound utilized as a combat poison. This substance is known as CS in the United States, while in France, it goes by CB. OSBM, OCBM, or CBM also refer to it.

CS gas, also known as 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, was produced in 1928 in the United States and began to be used by the US Army almost three decades later, in 1954, during conflicts like the Vietnam War. Contact with CS gas causes severe eye and upper airway mucosal irritation, leading to symptoms such as profuse tear production, coughing, excessive salivation, and sneezing.

It should be pointed out that CS gas does not have to be inhaled to exert effects; it also operates through skin contact. In cases of severe exposure, the affected individual may develop painful blisters. The gas's effects are enduring, often lasting several hours after initial exposure, and in the field, the substance can retain its toxic properties for up to two weeks. In enclosed spaces, CS gas can be lethal.

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