Russia’s 45-mile-long ‘mega trench’
A chemical weapons expert has issued an urgent warning that Russian forces may be using a bomb capable of a blast that is “one short of a nuclear explosion”. Today, the Ministry of Defence tweeted a thread in which they said Russian media had reported that Putin’s airborne troops had received “thermobaric multiple launch rocket systems”, which Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon told Express.co.uk has the power to “bring down tower blocks without any problems at all”.
The MoD twitter thread read: “As of 03 April 2023, Russian media reported the transfer of TOS-1A thermobaric multiple launch rocket systems to Russian airborne forces (VDV).
“The highly destructive TOS-1A, which Russia designates as a ‘heavy flamethrower’, is typically operated by Russia’s specialist Chemical, Biological and Radiological Protection Troops in Ukraine, and has not previously been formally associated with the VDV.
“The transfer likely indicates a future role for the VDV in offensive operations in Ukraine. It is likely part of efforts to reconstitute the VDV after it suffered heavy casualties in the first nine months of the war.”
Thermobaric weapons suck oxygen out of space as they burst into a screaming fireball.
TOS-1A missiles are thermobaric and are capable of destroying infrastructure with supersonic blast waves.
The 59-year-old chemical weapons expert warned that Putin has a track record of targeting civilians, and that to do so using thermobaric weaponry “would be horrific”.
He said such weapons “are basically just massive explosions using a lot of, for want of a better word, fuel [or] petrol.”
He added: “If it looks like they’re going to use them against civilians then that is a war crime and that would be horrific. These things would bring down tower blocks without any problems at all.
“The Russians have attacked civilians, I saw it very closely in Syria over the last ten years, but we know in Ukraine they’ve attacked hospitals and schools.
“So if you dropped one of these bombs on a school it would be absolutely devastating.”
The colonel noted that similar military tools are used by Western powers but not on human targets.
He said: “We in the West use them for clearing minefields and I assume that the Ukrainian military will use them to clear the minefields when they start their advance.
“But these are particularly horrific weapons. They’re not illegal if used in a military context, but if the Russians use them in civilian areas it’s one short of a nuclear explosion – it’s that sort of level of intensity in size.”
Chair of Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood also condemned the reported move by the Kremlin.
He told Express.co.uk that Russia’s use of thermobaric artillery indicates Putin’s increasing concern with how the war is faring.
The MP for Bournemouth East said: “It’s a sign of desperation in his failed attempt to take Ukraine that Putin now resorts to deploying thermobaric weapons.
He continued to say that this latest move from the 70-year-old Russian leader is him once more laying down the gauntlet to Western leaders.
He added: “But this is also a test for the West as Putin tries once again to stretch the limits of accepted international behaviour – knowing the West will be hesitant to retaliate.”
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