On Monday, Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova and human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused Russia of dropping vacuum bombs, a highly dangerous bomb prohibited by several international organizations.
Amnesty also accused Russia of targeting civilian communities, one of which was a preschool in northeastern Ukraine where citizens were taking shelter.
Markarova told reporters after a meeting with the U.S. Congress, that Russia has used “vacuum bombs” against Ukraine.
“They used a vacuum bomb today,” Markarova said. “…The devastation Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.”
What are vacuum bombs and why are they dangerous?
Vacuum bombs are known as a thermobaric weapon, a fuel-air explosive, which uses a container of fuel and two separate explosive charges.
When dropped, the first explosive spreads fuel in a cloud that absorbs oxygen and then flows around objects and buildings, threatening people’s vision. As this dangerous fog spreads, the second charge detonates coinciding with the cloudy air, creating a deadly explosion incinerating anyone in close proximity.
According to a study done by the CIA, the pressure wave of a vacuum bomb is said to kill its victims by either “rupturing their lungs” or if the bomb does not detonate, breathing in the fuel — a fatal combination. Anyone close to the explosion is “obliterated.”
People in proximity to the blast can also face heavy repercussions — burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs and possibly blindness.
Due to its deadly nature and quite literal nuclear effects, international humanitarian law prohibits the use of vacuum bombs and thermobaric weapons. Launching senseless attacks that target, kill and injure civilians is a war crime.
This isn’t the first time Russia has been accused of using lethal vacuum bombs to incite strong humanitarian implications and crimes.
In 2000, Human Rights Watch reported and accused Russia of using thermobaric weapons in Chechnya, a Russian republic.
In August 1999, Russia also was suspected to have used FAE bombs, fuel-air explosive bombs, in Dagestani village of Tando, Russia. Alongside Russia, according to the New York Times, the US has used similar thermobaric bombs in Islamic State group caves in Afghanistan in 2017 as well.
Considering Russia has been accused, without actual confirmation, twice before of using vacuum bombs against its own people, there seems to be no limit for them when killing the innocent.
Civilians are being targeted with these vacuum bombs
Reportedly over the past two days, Russian military strategy has shifted toward targeting civilians rather than the military.
On Tuesday, 10 people were killed including 35 injured by Russian rocket strikes in Kharkiv. A government building was also destroyed in the center of Kharkiv, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ukrainian government officials.
On February 25, Russian forces bombed a children’s kindergarten and an orphanage in the small Ukrainian town of Okhtyrka, injuring several including children.
Have received this photo from several official Ukrainian sources; the unedited photo shows at least two dead persons prostrated on the ground. https://t.co/1j8VjXkXRD
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) February 25, 2022
According to the most recent UN figures from Monday, a total of 536 casualties have occurred, including 136 civilians and 13 children.
In a video address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed these suspected attacks on civilian communities.
“They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven,” said Zelenskyy.
Many have called for action to be taken against Russia for these suspected war crimes
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba stated in a tweet that along with the General Prosecutor’s Office, they would be collecting information on all presumed war crimes and will send it to Hague, Netherlands — home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice.
Today’s Russian attacks on a kindergarten and an orphanage are war crimes and violations of the Rome Statute. Together with the General Prosecutor’s Office we are collecting this and other facts, which we will immediately send to the Hague. Responsibility is inevitable.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 25, 2022
In another tweet, Kuleba also stated anyone opposed to Russia being blocked from the SWIFT banking system, has “the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children… on their hands.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also condemned Russia for killing innocent Ukrainians, calling for the removal of Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
As Russia continues to inflict such inhumane acts on Ukrainian civilians, it is quite possible they could see even harsher punishments than the economic sanctions already imposed.
The move to bring evidence of war crimes to the International Court of Justice in Hague is important and hopefully will result in outright condemnation, especially as horrendous warfare continues to be waged in the 21st century. After all the horrors of World War II, the more recent catastrophes in the Middle East wars and elsewhere across the world, it is evident that the international community urgently needs to do more to control states that turn into warmongers.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. Featured Photo: Supporters of Ukraine protest near the Wisconsin capitol building on February 26, 2022. Source: Chali Pittman/WORT News.