Ukraine's ambassador to the United States and several human rights groups have claimed that Russia used a lethal vacuum bomb on the fifth day of its invasion of Ukraine. According to reports, the vacuum bomb was dropped on Kyiv on Monday. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in a late-night address accused Russia of war crimes and said that using vacuum bombs was a "violation of all conventions."
The bomb, also known as a thermobaric weapon or an aerosol bomb, pulls oxygen from the atmosphere in order to produce a larger and more deadly explosion. Ukraine also said that Russia used cluster bombs on Kharkiv on Monday during its air raids.
Violating All Conventions
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, made the claim on Monday after being contacted by media during a meeting with White House congressmen about Ukraine funding.
"They used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva convention," Markarova said after a meeting with legislators. "The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large."
A vacuum bomb is a dangerous explosive that is fed by oxygen from the surrounding air and generates a high-temperature blast with a blast wave that lasts much longer than a normal explosive. The vacuum bomb was allegedly used on Kyiv that killed several. However, no exact numbers of the dead could be confirmed.
Vacuum bombs are among the most powerful non-nuclear weapons ever developed.
The allegations were later once again made by Zelensky in his late-nigh address to the nation. Zelensky said there would "definitely be an international tribunal" for what he called a "violation of all conventions" and that "no one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people".
Russian President Vladimir Putin had unleashed an indiscriminate bombing attack on the Kyiv and Kharkiv on Monday after in a frantic attempt to revive his stalled military offensive after facing heavy resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine Fights Back
As Russia's assault on Ukrainian forces continued, security sources said Putin had "stirred up a hornets' nest" by "underestimating the strength and resistance" and the "will of the people to fight" 96 hours into the invasion.
Markarova said that dropping vacuum bombs was totally against the international convention. "The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large. But Ukrainians will resist, we are defending our home, we do not have any other option. We will not get tired, we will not stop, we will not surrender," she said.
The move by Russia has also been condemned by several human rights groups. Russian soldiers appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, with Amnesty accusing them of targeting a preschool in northern Ukraine while civilians took shelter inside.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she had seen reports but did not have confirmation that Russia had used such weapons. "If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime," she told a press briefing, noting that there are international organizations that would assess that and President Joe Biden's administration "would look to be a part of that conversation."