Kiev is using chemical warfare agents; Ukraine stores weapons at its nuclear power plants, but IAEA diverts attention

From Strategic Stability

Report # 199. Kiev violates the CWC in Donbass

February 7, 2023

1. Ukraine is accused of using chemical warfare agents

Russian military commanders have reported that Ukrainian troops deployed a type of chemical weapon against Russian units in Donbass by using drones. Such CW agents have caused coughing, lacrimination and weakness among a number of servicemen on the battlefield.

Speaking to Russian television on February 6, Denis Pushilin, the acting governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said his office has been receiving reports about chemical warfare for at least two weeks. Ukrainian troops have reportedly been deploying “chemical compounds that make our military service members ill,” he announced.

Chemical warfare is forbidden under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty that took effect in 1997 and to which both Ukraine and Russia are signatories. Russia has already destroyed all its CW agents, while Ukraine and the USA have not.

There have been multiple cases of using in Donbass by Armed Forces of Ukraine cluster and phosphorus ammunition also banned by the international law.

2. Biden explained refusal to send F-16s to Ukraine

America’s F-16 fighter jets should remain in the country and not be sent to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said on February 6. Earlier, he signaled that Washington has no plans to send the warplanes to Kiev. Speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Biden was asked to explain why he is against F-16 deliveries for Ukraine. “Because we should keep them here. That’s a totally different situation,” he replied, without elaborating.

His refusal, however, does not eliminate the possibility that Washington could approve the re-export of the warplanes from other countries. In an interview with the Financial Times last month, a senior executive with Lockheed Martin, which produces F-16s, said that there is “a lot of conversation about third party transfer of F-16s” to Ukraine.

In an interview on February 6, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak was asked whether Warsaw will hand over its F-16 jets to Ukraine. He replied: “we have too few of them, only 48 [aircraft].” This comes after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he is open to deliveries of warplanes, but only if this is a “decision of the whole of NATO.”

Russia has repeatedly warned the West against supplying Ukraine with weapons, arguing that it will only prolong the conflict. Moscow promised to destroy all NATO arms along their delivery channels.

There are only 14 major bridges, 4 main railroad hubs and two tunnels to disrupt such deliveries from NATO countries to Ukraine at the first stage, in the central part of Ukraine during their transit, and finally at the line of engagement. There are only two railroads stretching from Poland to Ukrainian aggressors.

“In the first month of this year alone, Ukraine’s loses amounted to more than 6,500 servicemen, 26 aircraft, 7 helicopters, 208 unmanned aerial vehicles, 341 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 40 multiple rocket launchers,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on February 7 in Moscow.

The minister added that Russian Armed Forces continue to destroy all weapons and equipment supplied to Ukraine. “Russian troops continue to destroy all weapons and equipment supplied to Kiev, both on delivery routes and in combat positions,” Shoigu added.

3. Ukraine is to replace its current defense minister

Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov, will be relieved of his duties and instead appointed minister for strategic industries, according to David Arakhamia, parliamentary faction head of President Zelensky’s political party. The planned reshuffle follows multiple corruption scandals and resignations by other officials, including Reznikov’s deputy.

There are hints in Ukrainian mass media that the chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate or GUR, Kirill Budanov, will head the MoD, which is logical in wartime.

He is best known for his veiled threats of more strikes and terrorist attacks deeper into Russian territory. In October 2022, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) called Budanov a key suspect behind the car bombing attack on the Crimean Bridge. He is also known as having a wrist bracelet with fascist swastika.

VIPs close to the Ukrainian president claim that Reznikov is the most “logical” candidate to head the Ministry of Strategic Industries, given his “expertise” in securing Western military aid at Ramstein Air Base meetings and directing the endless flow of heavy weaponry for the Ukrainian army.

Multiple senior Ukrainian officials have resigned or have been fired in recent weeks, some in relation to an alleged graft scandal affecting the Defense Ministry. According to a Ukrainian media investigation, various foodstuffs for the military ended up costing several times more than average retail prices. In Ukraine it became a routine practice.

Report # 196. The IAEA hides Ukrainian weapons stored near Ukrainian NPP

January 29, 2023

1. The IAEA diverts attention from deployment of arms near Ukrainian NPP

The IAEA attempted to divert attention from the Russia’s data on certain munitions at Ukrainian nuclear power plants. This body intends to divert public attention away from the nuclear power plants located on the territory controlled by Ukraine and to shift maximum attention to Zaporozhye NPP, located at the Russian territory which has long been controlled by Russia, in order to artificially escalate the situation around ZNPP and to promote the false plan of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi about its demilitarization exclusively by the Russian side.

The Russian side urged the IAEA Secretariat to scrutinize the information of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service about Ukraine’s deployment of weapons at the nuclear power plants it controls.

Kiev is engaged again in nuclear blackmail.

2. Moscow explains Ukraine grain shipment delays

Kiev’s merchants are creating an “artificial” backlog by breaking UN-brokered regulations, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said

Ukrainian businessmen are sabotaging the internationally brokered deal to unblock grain shipments from the country’s ports, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. The agreement – the Black Sea Grain Initiative – was signed in July last year to restore deliveries of wheat and other agricultural products interrupted by the Ukraine conflict.

In a statement on January 26, the UN said that more than 100 ships were in Turkish waters, including 32 vessels waiting for inspection by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), which is made up of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN.

“In the last two weeks, the average waiting time of vessels between application and inspection is 21 days,” the UN said, urging “all parties to work to remove obstacles for the reduction of the backlog and improve operational efficiencies within the JCC.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that it could not confirm UN data about the number of ships and waiting times. According to Moscow, 64 vessels were docked at Ukrainian ports or waiting in inspection zones. “The order of inspections and passages is being managed by the Ukrainian side. Russian representatives cannot influence them in any way,” the statement read. The ministry accused Ukraine of creating “an artificial backlog” of freighters in Istanbul. The problem was “caused by Ukrainian merchants who are contracting vessels not in accordance with the rules and terms of registration, and without participating in the initiative,” the ministry said.

Moscow insisted in the past that, while the grain deal was promoted as a way to deliver food to the poorest countries, the majority of the shipments were heading for the EU and Turkey

3. Multiple Ukrainian officials fired amid corruption scandals

Multiple senior Ukrainian officials have been fired by the country’s government on January 26. The ongoing reshuffle was announced by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in his daily video address and affects officials “on different levels, in ministries and other bodies of central and provincial authority, and law enforcement.”

The government has dismissed deputy defense minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, deputy social policy minister Vitaly Muzychenko, as well as two deputies of the minister of regional development, Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya.

Shortly before the government’s decision, Shapovalov himself announced his resignation, which was swiftly accepted by his boss, Alexey Reznikov. The move has been prompted by an ongoing graft scandal within the ministry, which had allegedly been procuring food for troops at abnormally high prices.

Apart from the deputy ministers, the government has also dismissed multiple heads of regional military administrations, including Aleksey Kuleba, the head of Kiev Region. According to reports by some Ukrainian outlets, Kuleba is poised to replace Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, Kirill Timoshenko, who resigned earlier in the day.

Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksey Simonenko became another victim of the ongoing reshuffle, ending up dismissed on Tuesday as well. The official became embroiled in a public scandal earlier this month, after spending the New Year’s holidays in Spain. Apart from getting bad publicity for relaxing at a foreign resort during the ongoing military conflict with Russia, the official faced allegations of corruption as he’d purportedly used the car of a wealthy businessman with a security detail hired by its owner during the ill-fated trip.

4. Thousands of Italians sign up against Zelensky bellicose speech

Tens of thousands of Italians have signed a petition protesting Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s planned a war propaganda address at a traditional Sanremo Music Festival. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters that the event “should remain the festival of Italian song and nothing else.”

The petition, which blames the Ukrainian conflict on NATO and on Kiev’s “brutal repression” of Russian-speakers in Donbass, has gained around 33,000 signatures, Reuters reported on January 27.

It calls on the organizers of the Sanremo Music Festival – a Eurovision-style contest held every year since the 1950s – to withdraw their invitation to Zelensky, who is set to speak via video link on the final night of the contest on February 11, 2023.


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