UK Says Russia Confirms Use Of Thermobaric Weapons In Ukraine
Vacuum bomb
Leonid Faerberg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

According to the British Ministry of Defense, Russia confirmed it indeed has used thermobaric weapons, also known as “vacuum bombs,” against the Ukrainian people. A “Vacuum bomb” uses oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion. It creates “a blast wave that lasts far longer than conventional explosives,” Fox News noted, adding, “Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, meanwhile, said Wednesday afternoon that he has seen ‘no indications’ that Russia has used thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.”

NBC News explained further:

Thermobaric weapons, or vacuum bombs, are a type of two-stage munition that create enormous explosions. Launched in a rocket or artillery shell, the first explosive charge spreads an aerosol akin to vaporized gasoline over the area. A second charge then ignites the aerosol fog, creating a huge blast, flames, a large pressure wave and a vacuum as oxygen from the surrounding air is sucked up. … Victims can be killed by the blast or the accompanying shock wave, and the subsequent vacuum can rupture people’s lungs.

The British Ministry of Defense tweeted on Wednesday, “The Russian MoD has confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine. The TOS-1A uses thermobaric rockets, creating incendiary and blast effects.”

According to David Johnson, a retired U.S. Army colonel and a principal researcher at the Rand Corporation, the type of thermobaric weapon Russian convoys inside Ukraine have allegedly been transporting is the TOS-1A multiple rocket launcher with a range of  2.5 miles and a blast radius of roughly 1,000 feet. He stated, “Everything inside that would be vaporized, essentially.” He added, “It’s just a horrible, devastating weapon.”

On February 28, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters, “They used the vacuum bomb today.”

Two days prior to that, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had warned on Twitter, “#Russia has now deployed TOS-1 launchers to the outskirts of heavily populated areas …  Thermobaric weapons against civilian targets have zero military purpose … It would be a war crime aimed at terrorizing & slaughtering people into submission.”

Dr. Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, stated, as reported by The Guardian, “Russia has systems right across the spectrum … from quite small tactical weapons, to huge, air-launched bombs. The separatists that Russia was supporting in the Donbas region, they have been using them for a number of years now.” He continued, “They are not illegal even though their effects can be pretty horrific, because of that effect of creating a vacuum and sucking the air out of the lungs of defenders. … One of the things we know about Russian tactics is that they are willing to destroy everything. … It’s clear that the Ukrainians are hunkering down in some of the cities … as that continues the Russians are going to resort more and more to using … whatever weapons they have including thermobaric weapons in built-up urban areas.”

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