War in Ukraine, the map of the advance: Russia and the US compete on biological weapons

Of Andrea Marinelli and Guido Olimpio

Moscow accuses the United States of running laboratories on Ukrainian territory, Washington responds by arguing that Russia is looking for a pretext to use unconventional weapons. In between is Ukraine, where bombings are intensifying (even with devastating thermobaric missiles, already used in Syria)

Russia has been arguing for days that the United States runs biological weapons manufacturing laboratories in Ukraine, to hit Putin’s soldiers on the ground. Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said this, stating that the Pentagon fears that secret biological experiments will emerge on the territory and that Ukrainian nationalists delivered 80 tons of ammonia near Kharkiv. This was repeated by the deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Chumakov, inviting the Western media to deal with the secret biological laboratories in Ukraine. This was confirmed on Wednesday by Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, explaining that Russia has evidence that components are being developed in Ukrainian laboratories near the border to make biological weapons.

A few hours after Zakharova’s comment, the White House responded, defining absurd the insinuations of the Muscovite apparatus and warning against disinformation campaigns also re-launched by Chinese officials. In a Twitter thread, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki explained that the United States complies with the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which have been in force since 1972 and 1997 respectively, while Russia has a long history of chemical attacksranging from the poisoning of dissident Alexei Navalny to supporting dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria where, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, at least 17 occurred during the civil war.

Psaki’s last two tweets open for a new scenario in the Ukrainian conflict: the Russian one is an attempt to justify the attack, he wrote, and now we must beware of the possible use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, but also of the possibility that Moscow is looking for a pretext to use unconventional weapons. These words intertwine the three fronts on which Russia is fighting: the fieldwhere it proceeds slowly but bombs all the main cities, also hitting civilians and is about to launch the offensive on Kiev; propagandawhere it tries to stand up to Kiev’s effective communications machine; intelligencewhere he duels with Washington, which in this conflict has decided to make everything public by calling the Kremlin’s moves, an unusual strategy.

Especially for this, however, the tweet published by the White House spokesperson it sounds like a warning, an attempt to anticipate – to avert it – the next move by the Russian General Staff: the use of chemical weapons – suffocating agents such as chlorine, blister agents that strike through inhalation and contact, blood agents that prevent cells from using or transferring oxygen, nerve agents – or organicsuch as anthrax or carbuncle.

This concern was espoused by British intelligence, which also announced on Wednesday that Putin’s army is using thermobaric weapons in Ukraine: The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed the use of TOS-1A rocket launchers, which fire thermobaric missiles creating incendiary and explosive effects, wrote the London Defense on Twitter, publishing a video showing the devastating effects. These warheads – used in Syria and now hitting a European capital – are launched by the dozen from TOS-1A crawlers, and are composed of flammable gas and metal particles: when they explode, the first substance uses the oxygen present in the air to create a sort of cloud or bubble at very high temperature.

Immediately after, there is a new explosion. The consequences are very high temperatures, a longer shock wave than with conventional weapons and burning oxygen. The shot can not be contained by a wall, the mixture can squeeze into the gaps. They are used for hitting targets barricaded in a building, but also hidden in bunkers or caves. Thermobaric weapons are not illegal, but they cannot be used against civilians, nor against military targets if their use puts the population at risk, causes excessive damage or destruction compared to the resulting military advantage, causes unnecessary suffering.

Meanwhile, the Americans have raised their estimate of Russian losses: 5-6 thousand soldiers killed. a clear change of evaluation linked – they explain – to new data collected on the ground. As for intelligence, the decision to prepare for the invasion and then unleash it was made within a very small circle of characters. The fact that US intelligence discovered it well in advance – the American alarms date back to the fall – tells us two things: firstly that they have excellent sources inside the Kremlin, and then that Washington’s decision to reveal such crucial information is an important step, because it may have put the deep throat at risk. .

The bombings of these hours are only a foretaste of what will happen: the Army continues its intent to encircle the cities and advances especially in the south. The worst news comes from Mariupol, besieged for days, where a missile hit a children’s hospital yesterday, killing 3 people: the deputy mayor spoke of 1,207 confirmed deaths, a summary balance made by counting the bodies collected in the streets. The Russian war machine is mighty compared to that of the enemy, but there is one factor that cannot be created in a factory or laboratory: the morale of those who fight for their land. And the resistance of the Ukrainians proves it. An expert, analyzing Moscow’s initial difficulties, he underlined how the poor quality of the means and the training are not enough, the absence of true coordination, the military industrial choices, the relative technological level. Parameters compared with those of Western forces.

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