Russia’s defense ministry blamed Ukraine of poisoning some of its troops in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s southeastern area of Zaporizhzhia in late July.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry said on Saturday in reaction that the alleged poisoning could have been as a result of Russian forces eating expired canned meat.
A number of Russian troops were taken to a military hospital with symptoms of “severe poisoning” on July 31. Tests revealed a toxic substance, botulinum toxin type B, in their bodies, the Russian defense ministry said.
“On the fact of chemical terrorism sanctioned by the [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy regime, Russia is preparing supporting evidence with the results of all the analyses,” the ministry said in a press release.
It did not disclose how many soldiers suffered poisoning or what their condition was now, or revealed what the “supporting evidence” entails.
Botulinum toxin type B is a neurotoxin that can lead to botulism when consumed in previously contaminated food products, but it can also be of medical use.
An additional investigation was also being conducted on the possible poisoning of the leader of the provisional administration of the Kherson area, Volodymyr Saldo, with alleged chemical warfare agents, it added.
Saldo, a former mayor of the city of Kherson who was appointed to lead the region of the same name when Russian troops overtook it in early March, fell sick in early August.
Ukraine’s defense ministry did not immediately react to the allegations, but interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko spoke on the accusations on the Telegram messaging app.
“The department [Russian defense ministry] does not clarify whether the poisoning could have been caused by expired canned meat, in which botulinum toxin is often found. Overdue rations have been massively complained about by the occupying forces since the first days of the invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Russia has said its “special military operation” launched on February 24 is aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and protecting Russian speakers on what President Vladimir Putin called historical Russian land.
Ukraine and Western countries have seen this as an unprovoked war of conquest targeted at wiping out Ukraine’s national identity.