The United States could not confirm the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but noted that they “had credible information that Russian forces may use a variety of riot control agents."
Blinken said these include "tear gas mixed with chemical agents that would cause stronger symptoms to weaken and incapacitate entrenched Ukrainian fighters and civilians, as part of the aggressive campaign to take Mariupol.”
“We're in direct conversation with partners to try to determine what, what actually has happened,” Blinken said at the State Department.
“So this is a real concern. It's a concern that we had from before the aggression started. I think I pointed to the possibility that these kinds of weapons would, would be used and it's something that we're very, very focused on,” he added.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday that the US has provided equipment to Ukraine “to protect them from the potential use of chemical weapons.”
Price also said the US is ready to help Ukraine with investigating the potential use of chemical agents.
“We have been in direct conversations with our Ukrainian partners as they are collecting facts and evidence. We do stand ready to assist in case we can be useful in terms of that investigation, whether it is any sort of technical capability or anything else,” he said in response to a question from CNN’s Kylie Atwood.
More background: After reports emerged Monday of a possible strike involving chemical substances of some kind in Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the possibility should be taken seriously, though a Mariupol official said any such attack remained unconfirmed.
Other nations such as the UK said they are working to verify details. CNN cannot independently verify that there has been any kind of chemical strike in Mariupol.