Nitric acid is a dangerous chemical which can cause harm to people who inhale or touch it (Picture: TG/East2West)
A huge cloud of nitric acid hangs ominously above a Ukrainian city in shocking footage after Russia allegedly carried out an airstrike on a chemical plant.
Kremlin forces have been targeting the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk with a ‘full-scale offensive in all directions’.
Newly released video captures the cloud rising into the air at the Azot plant. The gas is corrosive and poisonous and can pose health threats to anyone who inhales or touches it.
Local governor Serhiy Haidai said the blast was caused by a Russian airstrike hitting the chemical plant but Moscow denies this.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out at Vladimir Putin’s men for targeting areas where there is ‘large-scale chemical production’.
He said: ‘The Russian army’s strikes (in Severodonetsk), including blind air bombing, are just crazy.
‘But it is no longer surprising that for the Russian military, for Russian commanders, for Russian soldiers, any madness is absolutely acceptable.’
The cloud was filmed in the air above the Azot plant in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region (Picture: TG/east2west news)
Russia claims the ‘relaxed’ soldiers in the footage prove there was no airstrike at the time (Picture: TG/East2West news)
Severodonetsk usually has a civilian population of about 106,000. That number is likely to be much less now with many have fleeing their homes in search of safety.
Those left in the city were advised to stay inside and keep their windows and doors closed.
Pro-Moscow separatist forces, the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, claim the blast happened after a tank blew up in Ukrainian territory.
They said: ‘The relaxed behaviour of Ukrainian soldiers (seen in the video) confirms that Russian artillery was not shelling the plant at the time of the explosion.’
The Russian Investigative Committee said it has launched a criminal investigation into the blast.
Most of Severodonetsk is reportedly under Russian control now.
Russia has doubled down its efforts to seize the key city of Severodonetsk in Moscow’s fight for eastern Ukraine (Picture: Getty)
A map revealing how much of Ukraine Russia has managed to seize (Picture: Metro Graphics)
Mr Haidai told the BBC: ‘Our troops still remain in the city and for the time being are still resisting the Russian army.
‘But if they need to withdraw to the other side of the river, closer to Lysychansk, in order to preserve troops then they will probably do so.’
Western leaders have long predicted Russia would unleash a chemical attack and blame it on the Ukrainians.
Chemical warfare is when a substance is intentionally used to cause harm or death. It is largely banned by international law and can be considered a war crime.
Nitric acid is not typically used as a chemical weapon but the gas can be dangerous to people who come into contact with it.
Inhaling the acid can cause irritation to the eyes, throat and nose. It can also trigger headaches, confusion and a loss of balance.
Chronic exposure to the gas makes the risks much more serious, including changes of skin damage and possibly even lung cancer – although this is very rare.
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