Would Russia dare to use chemical weapons in Ukraine?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reminded the world that he is considering use of nuclear weapons. Russia could also deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine as another option to pull the lever of weapons of mass destruction. Russia has used chemical weapons against Russian citizens who violated the regime.

A wave of poisonings looks suspicious. Moscow claims to have destroyed all its chemical stocks (40,000 metric tons) in 2017. But Putin is believed to have ordered intelligence personnel to poison the defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018 and dissident Alexei Navalny in 2020 with the nerve agent Novichok.

Is anyone protected against chemical warfare?

Russia would use chemical weapons in Ukraine to force Kyiv to surrender. Ukrainian soldiers do not appear to be wearing nuclear, biological, chemical suits, gas masks or other protective gear. A chemical attack would be disastrous, and it would also kill, maim and terrify civilians.

Accomplice in the Syrian chemical attacks

The Russian military served alongside the Syrian armed forces and stood apart while The Syrians have used chemical weapons, chlorine gas and nerve agents against insurgent fighters and civilians. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, the Netherlands, determined this action in a 2016 investigation. Moscow denied its complicity. Russia and Ukraine are signatories to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention which prohibits their use.

A look at different chemicals

Russia could use chlorine gas against Ukrainian cities to sow panic, forcing Ukraine’s allies to react, which could mean crossing a red line. The use of sarin would be deadly, even if it dissipates quickly. Novichok chemicals would endanger Russian troops if they wanted to take over the territory where the attack occurred.

The False Flag Scenario

Russia can conduct a false flag operation in which they use a small volume of chemical weapons and accuse the Ukrainians and the United States of justifying further attacks on civilians and escalating the war. Moscow could spread these false claims for propaganda purposes.

Huge stocks during the Cold War

Russia claims it stopped producing chemical weapons in 1987. During the Soviet era. The The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said Russia had “declared a stockpile of almost 40,000 metric tons of chemical nerve, blistering and suffocating agents. According to some reports, the total stock exceeds 50,000 tons, with an additional stock of 32,300 tons of phosphorus agents.

Maybe Russia didn’t destroy everything

This is a large supply and it is plausible that Russia has not destroyed all of its stocks. FAS estimates that Russia had a wide variety of banned chemicals, around 80% of which were nerve agents, as well as phosgenesarin and mustard gas as well as several other dangerous agents.

No fear of climbing

One of the reasons Russia would use chemical weapons would be its frustration with the progress of the war. We know that Putin is capable of drastic measures such as recall 300,000 reservists serve in Ukraine. Russia has bombed civilians before. He used lethal thermobaric weapons. The longer this war lasts, the more likely Putin is to do something that could turn the tide in Russia’s favor, even if the Americans and NATO might respond militarily.

A frustrated and desperate Putin could resort to a chemical attack

Frank Gardner, writing for the BBC, said “The unpleasant truth about chemical weapons is that if you have a protracted war, where the attacking military is trying to break the will of the defending forces, then these weapons are a terribly effective way to do that.”

But could Russian forces even orchestrate the attack?

It is plausible that Russia could use chemical weapons, but its military is unlikely to be able to carry out an attack. This would require protecting its own troops and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Russian Armed Forces showed poor logistical support and coordination to even supply his troops conventionally. It’s also unclear whether Putin’s forces have adequate protective gear to guard against fallout, though some chemicals dissipate quickly.

If chemical weapons are used, the most likely scenario would be the false flag operation described above. Putin is an expert in lies and denial. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should investigate. This could take months and would require some form of ceasefire for scientists to complete their work. If an attack occurred, the United States and NATO would likely add more participants to the list of countries that engage in sanctions against Russia. The Allies would also send more powerful weapons to the Ukrainians such as planes, tanks and long-range missiles in response.

Biography of the expert: As editor of defense and national security in 1945, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a doctorate. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/International Relations.