As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches its second week, vacuum and cluster bombs have allegedly been used by Russia according to Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova. It is a significant moment in the fighting between the two sides because the effects of the bombs could be huge.
This article was originally published on Marca & We are reposting it to enhance your knowledge about Ukraine Invasion.
What are vacuum bombs?
Vacuum bombs don’t use conventional ammunition. Instead, they are filled with high-temperature, high-pressure explosives.
The weapon sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a powerful explosion and a large pressure wave that can have enormous destructive effects.
Compared to conventional explosives, the blast wave is significantly longer in duration and it’s also capable of vaporising human bodies.
Is Russia using vacuum bombs in the Ukraine conflict?
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, told reporters after meeting with members of the US Congress that Russia had used a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in its invasion of her country.
“They used the vacuum bomb today,” Markarova said.
“The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.”
Have vacuum bombs been used before?
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union allegedly used vacuum bombs against China in 1969.
It is also believed that the USA relied on them in its attempts to eliminate Al-Qaida in the mountains in Afghanistan and that Russia also deployed thermobaric weapons in Chechnya during the 1990s, with horrific consequences, according to Human Rights Watch.
Are vacuum bombs illegal? (Two arguments)
Amnesty International say international humanitarian law prohibits the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions. Launching indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians constitutes a war crime.
But, Dr Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has told The Guardian vacuum bombs are legal.
“They are not illegal even though their effects can be pretty horrific, because of that effect of creating a vacuum and sucking the air out of the lungs of defenders,” Hellyer said.
Source: Reuters / Marcus