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Russia says probing Ukraine use of chemical weapons near eastern cities

File photo shows Ukrainian forces pushing a Bayraktar TB2 drone on the tarmac in southern Ukraine during an exercise. Russia accuses Ukraine of using the unmanned aircraft to deploy chemical weapons near two of the country's eastern towns.

Russia says it is probing the alleged use of chemical weapons by Ukraine near Soledar and Bakhmut, citing symptoms of ill health and poisoning among its troops, who were stationed close to the two eastern Ukrainian cities.

Russia's state investigative committee made the announcement on Monday, quoting authorities in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

Donetsk voted last year to join Russia after Moscow launched what it called a military operation against Ukraine to stop Kiev from persecuting the people of the region and the neighboring Luhansk.

According to officials in Donetsk, Ukrainian military has used drones to drop the chemical weapons near the cities in question.

"As a result, servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces are experiencing a deterioration in their health and characteristic symptoms of poisoning," the Russian committee said.

Ukraine's Armed Forces, however, said in a statement that they adhered to laws of war, adding, "The enemy's accusations of the use of chemical weapons by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are untrue."

Since the launch of its military campaign, the Russian government and military have, on many occasions, blamed Ukraine for using unconventional weapons, including biological weapons or a radioactive dirty bomb.

Late last month, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had obtained documents, which revealed that US-funded laboratories in Ukraine had been creating biological weapons components and testing them on the population of the ex-Soviet republic.

No earlier than on Sunday, the ministry also warned that Ukraine was planning to carry out a false-flag operation, in which it would blow up buildings in the eastern city of Kramatorsk to blame Moscow for committing war crimes.

"The bombing of the medical institutions will be presented as another 'atrocity' by Russian troops, requiring a response from the world community and accelerating the supply of long-range missiles to Kiev [to be used] for strikes on Russian territory," it added.

Ukraine's Western allies, including the United States, have, in response to persistent demands from Ukraine, almost doubled the range of the missiles that they have been supplying to Kiev. They also recently agreed to start providing Kiev with battle tanks.

Moscow says supplying Kiev with more Western arms will only prolong the already drawn-out conflict and add to the suffering of Ukrainian people.

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