Russia-Ukraine conflict intensifies with 229 reported chemical attacks in January 2024

Ukraine accuses Russia of launching more than 200 chemical strikes in January 2024, stating that the Russians violated international rules by using tear gas grenades. Moscow disagrees; neither has hard evidence, which raises more questions.

Since the first invasion two years ago, there has been a marked increase in the number of occasions in which Ukraine has accused Russia of using toxic chemicals in over 200 attacks on the battlefield in only the month of January. The general staff of Ukraine revealed that 229 of the 815 documented incidences of Russian Federation-loaded munitions containing hazardous substances took place in January 2024.

Moscow has continually refuted claims that it used chemical weapons in Ukraine, accusing Kyiv of doing the same—a charge that Ukraine strongly rejects. Neither side has been able to offer hard proof to back up their assertions.

Ukraine has previously accused Russia of using chloropicrin, a substance that was widely known for being used as a deadly gas in World War I. The most recent statement, however, implies that Russia has now turned to repeatedly using tear gas in grenades—a technique that the worldwide Chemical Weapons Convention expressly forbids using on the battlefield.

The growing use of harmful chemicals has alarmed the Ukrainian general staff, who stressed the possible humanitarian fallout and the transgression of international standards. Concerns for the general safety and well-being of both military personnel and civilians caught in the crossfire are raised by the rise in these kinds of situations.

Although neither Moscow nor the other side has produced any proof, the situation is made more complicated by the lack of information.