On Monday, Ukrainian officials announced that Russia appears to have used chemical weapons in Mariupol during its invasion of Ukraine, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky estimates that the city’s death toll was in the “tens of thousands.”
A unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, the Azoz Regiment, said in a Telegram post that the chemicals were dropped from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Mariupol.
“About an hour ago, Russian occupation forces used a poisonous substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was dropped from an enemy UAV,” the post said, according to Newsweek. “The victims have respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. The consequences of using an unknown substance are being clarified.”
Zelensky called for stronger sanctions to be imposed on Russia in response to deter the use of chemical weapons.
“I would like to remind world leaders that the possible use of chemical weapons by the Russian military has already been discussed,” Zelensky said. “And already at that time it meant that it was necessary to react to the Russian aggression much harsher and faster.”
The news comes after Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko announced that over 10,000 civilians have died in his city since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Boychenko told the Associated Press that corpses were “carpeted through the streets of our city” and that the final death toll could be over 20,000.
Zelensky similarly said that “tens of thousands” had died in the city.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelensky said in an interview with South Korean lawmakers.
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