War in Ukraine, the specter of the use of chemical weapons

Should we fear the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Moscow? The absence of a quick military victory for the Russian army, making the Kremlin even more unpredictable, raises the specter of the atrocities committed by the Damascus regime in Syria, while for its part Moscow accuses Washington and Kiev of managing laboratories intended to produce biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine, which are internationally prohibited.

Russia “will pay a high price if it uses chemical weapons” in his war against Ukraine, warned Friday, March 11 the President of the United States Joe Biden during a speech at the White House. Since Wednesday, Americans and British have been saying that Russia could resort to such extremes.

The worrying prospect in France

In France also the prospect worries. The Russian invasion launched on February 24 “should show the strength of Russia, the opposite is happening. This makes (Russian President) Vladimir Putin all the more unpredictable”warned the French chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, in a letter sent Wednesday, March 9 to his general officers. “Vladimir Putin did not enter this war to lose it. In the event of being bogged down or humiliated, the use of dirty weapons or tactical nuclear weapons is one of the possibilities.told AFP a senior officer, on condition of anonymity.

For Olivier Lepick, associate researcher at the Strategic Research Foundation, specialist in chemical weapons, the Kremlin’s accusations, ” whimsical, are aimed at Russian public opinion. » « The Russians are in the declamatory, but have not advanced any tangible proof, he adds. Their accusations are baseless. It is a chestnut of Russian communication, which preempts the subject by accusing the adversary of the worst evils. »

Moscow had already accused the United States in 2018 of secretly carrying out biological experiments in a laboratory in Georgia, recalls the researcher. Furthermore, Ukraine has “biological research facilities”confirmed the number three of American diplomacy Victoria Nuland, stressing that the United States was “now quite worried about the possibility of Russian forces trying to take control of it”.

Russians “start by saying that there are chemical weapons stockpiled by their opponents or by the Americans. And so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons, as I fear they do, they have a kind of maskirovka” – Russian term for the art of deceiving the enemy – “a ready-made fake story”British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

This would further strengthen the sanction regime against Moscow.”

However, Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force in 1997, and officially completed the destruction of 100% of its 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in 2017.” Using chemical weapons on Ukrainian territory would further strengthen the sanctions regime against Moscow,” adds Olivier Lepick, who “ does not believe in chemical escalation “. The researcher acknowledges, however, that some arguments “ can raise fears of this scenario: we know the Syrian precedent, where Bashar Al Assad used chemical weapons to terrorize the Syrian population. And we see that in Ukraine, the war is shifting from a conflict between the military to a war that targets the civilian population to break their resistance through terror. We have known for a long time that Putin does not stop at the massacre of civilian populations. »


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