UPDATED 7:18 AM PT – Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Ukraine has accused Russia of using chemical weapons on the port city of Mariupol. A unit of the National Guard of Ukraine claimed Monday that the chemicals were dropped through an unmanned aerial vehicle on civilians in the city. Officials claimed victims are having respiratory failure.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby responded to the news, saying the Department of Defense cannot confirm the reports. However, he noted officials are monitoring the situation. In the meantime, President Joe Biden previously said if chemical weapons are used, it could prompt an “intense reaction” from the US.
We are working incredibly hard at an unprecedented scale — and an unprecedented speed — to help another nation defend itself. No other nation can do this. There's no historic comparison to anything we've done in the past. pic.twitter.com/Nr7TyiQrhu
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) April 9, 2022
This comes as the mayor of Mariupol said Monday that more than 10,000 civilians have died during the Russian siege of the city. Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said her office is investigating alleged war crimes committed by Russia. While speaking to reporters Monday, the official said she’s investigating 5,800 cases of alleged war crimes.
Venediktova also released a statement noting the war following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed at least 183 children, although the prosecutor general said the number is likely higher. She announced she has over 500 suspects she is looking at, including Russian soldiers and politicians who have allegedly committed war crimes or even crimes against humanity.
“Actually, what we see now, we see horrors of war, a lot of war crimes,” Venediktova stated. “Actually, it is not only war crimes, now we can say about a lot of crimes against humanity.”
The United Nations has said that about 1,800 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded, but most assume the real number is much higher due to slow reporting and lack of access to some areas.