Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukraine of poisoning some of its soldiers in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia in late July.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry said on Saturday in response the alleged poisoning could have been caused by Russian forces eating expired canned meat.
A number of Russian troops were taken to a military hospital with signs of “severe poisoning” on July 31. Tests showed a toxic substance, botulinum toxin type B, in their bodies, the Russian defence 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 statement.
It did not say how many soldiers suffered poisoning or what their condition was now, or elaborate on what the “supporting evidence” involved.
Botulinum toxin type B is a neurotoxin that can cause botulism when ingested in previously contaminated food products, but it can also have medical uses.
Russia’s defence ministry said its findings will be given to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
“Evidence of chemical terrorism by the Kyiv regime will soon be formally forwarded to the OPCW through the permanent mission of Russia,” it said.
An additional investigation was also being conducted on the possible poisoning of the head of the provisional administration of the Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, with alleged chemical warfare agents, it added.
Saldo, a former mayor of the city of Kherson who was appointed to head the region of the same name when Russian troops overran it in early March, fell ill in early August.
Ukraine’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to the accusations, but interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko addressed the allegation on the Telegram messaging app.
“The department [Russian defence 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 demilitarising Ukraine and protecting Russian speakers on what President Vladimir Putin called historical Russian land.
Ukraine and Western countries have viewed it as an unprovoked war of conquest aimed at wiping out Ukraine’s national identity.