LONDON (Reuters) – Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist forces both reported on Tuesday that an industrial acid tank had been blown up in eastern Ukraine, creating a serious potential hazard for local people, and each pinned the blame on the other.
“In Rubizhne, Luhansk region, Russian troops hit a tank with nitric acid,” David Arakhamia, a member of Ukraine’s negotiating team at peace talks with Russia, said on Telegram.
Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai told residents in a message on Facebook: “Do not leave bomb shelters. If you are indoors – close windows and doors.”
Luhansk is part of the Donbas region where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.
The armed forces of the self-proclaimed, Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic said on Telegram it was “Ukrainian nationalist formations” who had blown up the acid tank before retreating from the town. They said it had sent up a dangerous cloud of poison gas.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify the incident or to establish who was responsible.
Western governments have said they are concerned that Russia or its proxies could launch a chemical attack as part of the war in Ukraine and blame it on the other side. Moscow says it fears the use of weapons of mass destruction by Ukraine.
(Reporting by Reuters)