The Pentagon and the British Ministry of Defence are closely monitoring reports that a chemical agent was used by the Russian military in the besieged port of Mariupol.

In fact, when General Aleksandr Dvornikov ran Russia’s military operation in Syria, he crossed Barack Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons numerous times. He’s also being investigated for targeting civilian hospitals, ambulance drivers, and Red Crescent workers, as well as for indiscriminate bombings of apartment buildings and residential areas in Syria.

Just the sort of general Putin needs to end the fighting in Mariupol.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby can’t confirm the attacks.


“We are aware of social media reports which claim Russian forces deployed a potential chemical munition in Mariupol, Ukraine,” Kirby said Monday. “We cannot confirm at this time and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

“These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine,” said Kirby.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also said her government was working “urgently” to verify details an alleged attack.

All the usual caveats apply to this story; unconfirmed, widespread stories on social media do not make anything true.

This is especially true since some of the original reports are coming from the Azov Regiment, a unit of the Ukrainian army accused of harboring undemocratic (neo-Nazi) sympathies.

The ascension of General Dvornikov to the command of Russian forces is still very worrisome. He isn’t referred to as the “Butcher of Syria” for nothing. And the fact that he was in command when the UN confirmed the use of chlorine gas in Syria should be cause for immediate concern.

In truth, just a few hours after he took command, the reports of chemical weapons began to filter out of Ukraine.


The propagandists may be taking advantage of Dvornikov’s well-earned reputation for butchery in Syria by spreading false stories of a chemical attack. Or it all may be true.

If it is, it would represent a worrisome escalation in Ukraine and bring NATO and Russia a little closer to open warfare.

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