As the world stands at the brink of a probable war between Russia and Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Moscow to withdraw troops and resume negotiations. Blinken is all set to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov late next week for a dialogue over the sensational matter.
Russia has, over the past few months, gathered more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine's borders. While Russia partially pulled back troops from the borders, an invasion seems inevitable, the United States warned. Blinken noted in his dialogue that the only responsible way to resolve this crisis is through diplomacy and dialogue.
Blinken addressed the United Nations Security Council on Thursday and laid out a possible invasion plan the world can expect to materialize in the coming days. He also hinted at a probable attack involving chemical weapons by Russia.
"We don't know exactly the form it will take. It could be a fabricated so-called 'terrorist' bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake, even a real attack using chemical weapons," Blinken noted.
Explaining the possible next phase of the invasion plan, Blinken added that Russia might drop missiles and bombs across Ukraine and shut down key Ukrainian institutions by cyberattacks.
"After that, Russian tanks and soldiers will advance on key targets that have already been identified and mapped out in detailed plans. We believe these targets include Russia's capital, Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million people," he said.
What are Russia's Chemical Weapons?
In 2017, Russian President, Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles. However, an investigation conducted by Bellingcat in association with The Insider, Germany's Der Spiegel, and US-funded RFE/RL established that Russian military scientists were involved in the development of the chemical weapon Novichok, Insider reported.
What is Novichok?
Novichok is a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s. A highly chemical compound, Novichok slows the heart, paralyzes the muscles used for breathing, and can lead to death by asphyxiation if administered in a big dose.
According to Armscontrol.org, Russia possessed the world's largest chemical weapons armory containing approximately 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents, including VX, sarin, soman, mustard, lewisite, mustard-lewisite mixtures, and phosgene.
Russia stated that it has declared its chemical weapon inventory to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and commenced destruction. A report by OPCW in 2016 noted that Russia had destroyed about 92 percent of its stockpile (around 36,7500 metric tons) of chemical weapons by 2015. In September 2017, OPCW announced that Russia completed the destruction of its chemical weapons.
However, there have been allegations that Russia did not make a 'complete declaration of its chemical weapons' stockpile.' In 2018, the UK accused Russia of being involved in assassinating a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in the UK using the chemical agent Novichok.