Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 10.03.2018
Russia is at war with the West. In every theatre of war, the Putin regime has attacked using chemical weapons. The Russians are experts at developing and deploying poison and nerve gas. Since Russia started its invasion of Europe in Ukraine – on 20 February 2014 – the Putin regime has notably attacked Ukrainians, Syrians, and Britons with nerve agents. Russia used nerve agents in the Battle of Donetsk Airport in Ukraine, in the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria, and in the attack at Salisbury in the United Kingdom.
There is substantial evidence that Russia used nerve gas or a choking agent in the final days of the Battle of Donetsk Airport, Ukraine, in January 2015. For months, the Ukrainian armed forces held the airport against the superior numbers and firepower of the Russian armed forces. For their stubborn resistance and dauntless courage the Ukrainian soldiers became known as “Cyborgs.” When the Russian invaders could not dislodge the Ukrainian defenders by conventional means they resorted to chemical warfare, committing a war crime. On 19 January 2015, Russia attacked the Cyborgs with a nerve agent or a choking agent. 80 Ukrainian soldiers suffered injuries, including uncontrollable muscle spasms, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and in some cases loss of consciousness. By attacking in this way, Russia violated the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Despite being a signatory, Russia is known to be in possession of at least 10,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, and has an active chemical weapons research program, including nerve agents.
At least 80 people were killed and hundreds injured in a chemical attack on civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, on 4 April 2017. A Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 from Shayrat airbase dropped bombs on Khan Sheikhoun which contained the nerve agent Sarin. Sarin is 20 times as deadly as cyanide. Victims in Khan Sheikhoun experienced symptoms including redness of the eyes, foaming at the mouth, constricted pupils, blue facial skin and lips, severe shortness of breath and asphyxia. Russia is the sole support of the Assad regime: the Syrian Air Force only exists because of military aid from the Putin regime. The nerve agent deployed by the Syrian Su-22 was almost certainly supplied by Russia. Immediately after the nerve gas attack, Russia attacked Khan Sheikhoun with rockets, targeting and striking the main hospital, medical clinics, and the headquarters of the Syria Civil Defence (the rescuers known as the White Helmets).
On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were attacked in Salisbury, England, with a nerve agent that was rare and likely developed in a military chemical weapons research facility. A total of 21 people were hospitalized in this attack against Britain. British police have confirmed that this was a deliberate poisoning attack with a nerve agent, but they have not said which one. Nerve agents disrupt nerve signals that control muscle function. One eyewitness described the stricken Sergei Skripal as doing “strange hand movements” which would be consistent with nerve agent exposure. Russia has denied that it is behind this nerve agent attack. But Sergei Skripalwas a double-agent – a former Russian spy who turned into a British spy – and the parallels with the polonium-poisoning murder of Alexander Litvinenko are obvious. Russian propaganda outlets are in a frenzy spreading disinformation about the nerve agent attack on Britain. What happened on March 4 goes beyond crime and beyond terrorism: it was an act of war by Russia against Britain.
Russia is at war with the West. The Putin regime is attacking using chemical weapons that are far deadlier than those used in the First World War a century ago. It is not too much to suggest that the countries Russia is attacking should defend themselves. No one deserves to be a victim of Russian chemical warfare without their government putting up a fight – but so far only Ukraine is a fighting defender of Western values and ideals. Russia has already struck Ukraine, Syria, and Britain with its nerve agent weapons. Putin’s War is global, and any other country could be next.