U.S. Accuses Russia of Using Chemical Weapons in Ukraine, Imposes Sweeping Sanctions

The U.S. accuses Russia of violating chemical weapons ban in Ukraine, imposes sweeping sanctions to cripple Russia's military and industrial capabilities.

Nitish Verma
New Update
U.S. Accuses Russia of Using Chemical Weapons in Ukraine, Imposes Sweeping Sanctions

U.S. Accuses Russia of Using Chemical Weapons in Ukraine, Imposes Sweeping Sanctions

The United States has accused Russia of violating the international chemical weapons ban by deploying the choking agent chloropicrin against Ukrainian troops and using riot control agents as a method of warfare in Ukraine. The State Department said the use of such chemicals is not an isolated incident and is likely driven by Russian forces' desire to dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions and achieve tactical gains on the battlefield.

In response, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sweeping sanctions targeting nearly 300 entities in Russia, China, and other countries for supporting President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions aim to cripple Russia's military and industrial capabilities, including its chemical and biological weapons programs, by going after its military-industrial base and evasion networks.

The sanctions target companies and individuals involved in providing Russia with technology, equipment, and materials that are being used to strengthen its military and defense industrial base. This includes dozens of actors that have enabled Russia to acquire desperately needed technology and equipment from abroad, particularly from entities based in China and other third countries.

Why this matters: The U.S. actions are intended to further disrupt and degrade Russia's war efforts in Ukraine by targeting the support networks that enable Moscow to continue its aggression. The sanctions also send a strong message to China and other countries that providing material support to Russia's invasion will result in significant consequences.

The U.S. is delivering its findings that Russia's use of chloropicrin violated the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to Congress and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Ukrainian military has reported that in addition to chloropicrin, Russian forces have used grenades loaded with CS and CN gases. Russia has denied possessing a military chemical arsenal, but faces pressure for more transparency over the alleged use of toxic weapons.

The sanctions also targeted individuals connected to the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The U.S. has consistently warned that companies will face consequences for providing material support to Russia's war in Ukraine. "We will continue to crack down on Russia's attempts to evade international sanctions to fund its war machine," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The sweeping sanctions come as Russia continues to strike Ukraine's eastern regions, killing several civilians. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a "significant speed-up of deliveries" of weapons and ammunition from Western allies to strengthen the capabilities of Ukrainian soldiers as they battle Russian forces. The U.S. has pledged to accelerate deliveries of military aid to Ukraine after Congress approved $61 billion in new assistance that had been stalled for months.

Key Takeaways

  • US accuses Russia of violating chemical weapons ban in Ukraine war
  • US imposes sweeping sanctions on Russia, China, and other supporters
  • Sanctions target Russia's military-industrial base and evasion networks
  • US delivers findings of Russia's chemical weapons use to Congress and OPCW
  • US pledges to accelerate military aid to Ukraine as Russia continues attacks