U.S. trains Ukraine to respond to use of arms of mass destruction / REUTERS

The United States trains Ukraine to identify and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction in targeted assassinations.

This was reported by the U.S. Department of State on May 12.

"The United States recently conducted a virtual training exercise with partners from Ukraine to help domestic security services, law enforcement, and first responders identify, respond to, and investigate assassinations involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD)," it said.

This is part of a series of engagements the Department of State is conducting across Europe.

Read alsoZelensky enacts decree on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destructionRecent events in Europe have highlighted the real threat of government-sanctioned, targeted weapons of mass destruction attacks, it said.

The U.S. Department of State stresses that these attacks have highlighted the need for countries to have effective national responses, particularly strong and established communication between technical experts, law enforcement, and national security stakeholders.

As part of the training in Ukraine, U.S. law enforcement and medical experts provided local officials with information to identify the medical symptoms that indicate WMD material use, the attack cycle involved in WMD assassination attempts, and the specific measures that enable safe and secure detection and response to WMD incidents.

The engagement between U.S. and Ukrainian experts also involved sharing best practices and lessons learned, resulting in an increased level of preparedness against potential WMD attacks. Developing these partnerships and communities of excellence to identify and mitigate state-sponsored use of WMD in targeted assassinations are vital to addressing future attacks.

"The United States is committed to working with allies and partners to counter Russian malign activity like the use of WMD as tools of assassination," it said.

Russia's use of toxic substances

  • Russia is known to be developing and using chemical weapons, in particular the Novichok nerve agent, against political rivals.
  • In particular, on March 4, 2018, former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury, the United Kingdom. The British government said that the military-grade substance with which the Skripals were poisoned had been developed in Russia. The European Union has imposed sanctions against chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Department Igor Kostyukov and three of his subordinates for the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury. The sanctions are in effect until October 2021.
  • In August 2020, it became known about the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with Novichok. Experts from the Munich-based Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the German Armed Forces found traces of a toxic substance from the Novichok group in the blood, urine and skin of Navalny.