On Wednesday, the United Kingdom reported that Russia admitted using thermobaric rockets in its deadly attack on Ukraine. In order to generate a more powerful explosion than conventional bombs, thermobaric weapons, also known as vacuum bombs, pull oxygen from the surrounding air. Although they are not illegal, they are controversial because they are much more destructive than conventional explosives of similar size.
In a tweet, the UK Defence Ministry announced that Russia has admitted using the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine, which uses thermobaric rockets. The statement from Britain was accompanied by a video of the Soviet-era weapon. According to the UK, the weapon can destroy infrastructure and damage internal organs, resulting in death.
According to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Wednesday, the United States has not seen any indications that thermobaric weapons have been used. Under the international law of armed conflict, thermobaric weapons cannot be used against military targets if their launch may also harm civilians. To-1A weapons were visible in footage from the Kremlin incursion, which is now at the two-week mark.
“We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine which has no place on the battlefield,” the US envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the UN General Assembly last week.
Where have the thermobaric weapons been used before?
Russia’s confirmation comes after US lawmakers and officials warned that the Kremlin is escalating its attacks in Ukraine, killing hundreds of civilians. Meanwhile, reports state that the deadly bombs have been used by Russian and western forces since the 1960s. The United States used thermobaric weapons to eliminate terror group al-Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan. On the other hand, Russia has a long history of using bombs than the west.