Ukraine’s president has accused invading Russian forces of using white phosphorus, a controversial chemical substance that can cause severe and indiscriminate harm to civilians.
“This morning, by the way, there were phosphorus bombs. Phosphorus Russian bombs. Adults were killed again and children were killed again,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a virtual address to NATO leaders on Thursday, as the military alliance held an emergency summit on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Washington Post has not been able to independently verify reports of white phosphorous being used in Ukraine. Though the chemical is infamous due to the extreme damage it can cause, other incendiary weapons and chemicals used by militaries for illumination have been mistaken for white phosphorous in the past.
Asked by reporters about Zelensky’s comments on, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Russia “has never violated international conventions.”
An industrial chemical with incendiary properties, white phosphorous can be used in conflict for a variety of reasons. When a munition containing the substance explodes, the chemical inside creates a thick white cloud. Many countries, including the United States, have used the substance to create smokescreens during conflict or to signal to troops.