Russian forces used phosphorus weapons overnight to attack the besieged city of Bakhmut, Ukraine has said.
Dramatic video shared on social media by the Ukrainian defense ministry on Friday night purports to show the aftermath of the weapons’ use in the besieged town in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian news outlet Euromaidan Press said that the city had been filmed by a drone after Russian shelling, “most likely with phosphorus incendiary munitions.”
Next to video posted on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian armed forces was the message, “Let’s stand! SSO (Special Operations Force) soldiers together with their comrades continue to defend Bakhmut!”
“The enemy used phosphorus and incendiary ammunition in Bakhmut, trying to wipe the city off the face of the Earth,” the SSO told Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.
“Looks like something out of a video game. but it is real life,” tweeted journalist Varenichok Eristavi to his 99,000 followers. “There were real people still living in those buildings. Russia is a death cult.”
“The same situation was in Mariupol. When they can’t do anything, phosphorus munitions are fired,” Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, posted on Telegram.
Phosphorus bombs contain a mixture of white phosphorus and can be either used as incendiary weapons, or to make smoke screens. They are not banned as a chemical weapon under international conventions but they cannot be used in civilian areas.
However, Khaled Alfaiomi, an information security consultant, tweeted that the use of phosphorus bombs in the Donetsk city “is a clear violation of international law and a heinous act of violence. Russia and Wagner mercenaries must be held accountable for their actions in Bakhmut.”
“Not enough shells, but more than enough phosphorus,” tweeted the Ukrainian defense ministry, referring to complaints by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, about a lack of ammunition for his forces spearheading the attack on the city.
“Ruscists are shelling unoccupied areas of Bakhmut with incendiary ammunition. They will burn in Hell,” added the tweet, using the disparaging term for troops fighting for Moscow. Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry about the claims.
It comes as Kyiv warned that Moscow’s forces were trying to seize Bakhmut in time for Victory Day on May 9, when Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany.
Ukrainian deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said Wagner mercenaries were being redeployed from other positions and replaced with airborne assault units as Russia tries “with all its might” to seize the city.
Prigozhin said on Friday that his troops would withdraw from Bakhmut the day after Victory Day due to a “70 percent shortage of ammunition.”