Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.12.2018
The Russian Federation is preparing to use chemical weapons on the territory of Donbas it occupies in eastern Ukraine. The purpose of such an attack is to cause a significant number of civilian casualties and to terrorize the Ukrainian people with whom Muscovy is at war. This information was conveyed in a statement issued by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine on December 29.
The Russians have been at war with Ukraine since 20 February 2014. The Donbas battlefront of Putin’s war was opened with an invasion that began in April 2014. After initial territorial gains which lasted until the January-February 2015 Battle of Debaltseve, the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine in Donbas has been mostly static trench warfare. Despite recklessly draining the Russian treasury and spilling Russian blood, strategically inept Putin has been unable to deliver a victory over Ukraine.
In desperation, Putin launched a purposeful and unprovoked attack against the Ukrainian Navy on 25 November 2018. Hoping that this would spark a response from the Ukrainians that could be presented as a provocation, Putin prepared the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for a military offensive to expand the invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops are staged and combat-ready in Crimea, Ukraine (Russian-occupied), in Donbas, Ukraine (Russian-occupied) and in Russian Federation regions bordering Ukraine.
The Ukrainians did not take the bait, and did not give Putin the provocation he was looking for. Despite near-hysterical Kremlin propaganda that Ukraine would counter-attack, no Ukrainian offensive to liberate Donbas materialized.
Ukrainian military intelligence has now established that part of the Russian Federation’s preparation for a military offensive has been a heightened readiness of its armed forces in Donbas to act under conditions of chemical contamination. Up-to-date nuclear/biological/chemical protective gear has been distributed to personnel of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Russian occupation troops.
In the middle of December a group of Russian specialists in chemical warfare and poisonous substances arrived in the occupied territories of Donbas from the Russian Federation, according to Ukrainian military intelligence.
Ever since the Russian attack on the Ukrainian Navy on November 25, Kremlin information warfare has mounted a large-scale campaign accusing Ukraine of preparing to use “chemical weapons.” It is the assessment of Ukrainian military intelligence that the Russian Federation is preparing “a sabotage-terrorist act using chemically-hazardous poisonous substances, which will later be referred to by Russian propagandists as the use of ‘chemical weapons’ by Ukrainian forces against the occupants of occupied Donbas.”
The Ukrainian army has not and will not use chemical weapons, especially not on its own territory and against its own people. The rules of the Joint Forces Operation under which the Ukrainian defenders fight the Russian invaders do not even permit counter-battery artillery fire if the lives or property of Ukrainians under occupation is in danger.
The Russian Federation under Putin has used chemical weapons – repeatedly. The Russians supplied chemical weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and provided the logistics for Assad to attack his own people with those weapons. Two Russian GRU agents, Anatoly Chepiga and Aleksandr Mishkin, attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom on 4 March 2018. A British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, died in this Russian attack.
The Russian Federation will attack Ukraine with chemical weapons if it is capable of doing so. The criminal Putin regime has not been meaningfully punished for its acts of war: not for attacking the Syrian people with chemical weapons through its proxy Assad, not for attack in Great Britain with a nerve agent, and not for attacking for the Ukrainian Navy in the Kerch Strait and Black Sea. A century after the First World War ended, chemical warfare may return to the heart of Europe thanks to unstopped Russian aggression against Ukraine.