Russia: Heappey says ‘all options are on the table’
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James Heappey, Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, explained that if the reports were confirmed Russia would be “held to account.” Mariupol has been hit hard by the Russian bombardment, leaving hundreds of Ukrainians dead, with claims now emerging suggesting chemical weapons have been deployed in the area. Mr Heappey explained that Western Governments have already told Russian President Vladimir Putin that certain weapons should not be used.
Mr Heappey told Sky News: “These are appalling weapons to even think about using.
“The fact that they are part of the discussion is deeply sobering.
“It’s not just the President of the United States, the President of France and our own Prime Minister have also been clear that there are weapons that simply should not be used.
“And if they are used they will be held to account, I think it’s useful to maintain some ambiguity, Kay, over exactly what the response would be.”
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Mr Heappey added: “But let’s be clear, if they are used at all, then President Putin should know, that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond.”
Ms Burley asked: “Could we go as far as to say, a considered but effective response?”
The Tory minister said: “Well… It would certainly be effective, but it would also be well considered.
“I think it’s a very good way of putting it, but it’s important to recognise that there are all sorts of ways in which these things could be used.
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“From the use of tear gas which is effectively a riot control measure all the way through to utterly devastating lethal chemical weapons systems.
“So I don’t think it’s helpful to be too binary about the situation because these are highly nuanced.”
Reports of the use of chemical weapons came from Ukraine’s Azov regiment.
The regiment has been highly criticised for the past eight years due to its well-documented association with Neo-Nazis.
The Azov battalion report states: “The victims have respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. The consequences of using an unknown substance are being clarified.”
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Russian officials have denied the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has condemned Russian servicemen using brutal weapons against the people of Ukraine.
Mr Zelensky said: “The occupiers left mines everywhere. In the houses, they seized. Just on the streets, in the fields.
“They mined people’s property, mined cars, doors. They consciously did everything to make the return to these areas after de-occupation as dangerous as possible.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been working hard since the beginning of the war to impose sanctions on Russia to de-escalate the war in Ukraine.
Ms Truss tweeted: “Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with partners to verify details.
“Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account.”
Russia has not let global sanctions and bans stop them, the war has been raging for well over a month with no sign of a clear peace deal.
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