According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Russia has used thermobaric weapons, sometimes vacuum bomb, in Ukraine (MoD).
Due to their extreme destructiveness compared to conventional explosives of comparable size and the horrific effects they wreak on anybody trapped in their explosion radius, thermobaric weapons are divisive.
In Ukraine, has Russia used thermobaric weapons?
The employment of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine has been acknowledged by Russia, according to a tweet from the MoD.
It was said that the TOS-1A employs thermobaric rockets to produce incendiary and explosion effects. The devices, which can launch up to 9 kilometres, are referred to by the Russian military as “heavy flamethrowers.”
Oksana Markarova, the ambassador of Ukraine to the US, also said that Russia had used them in its assault.
What is the mechanism of a thermobaric bomb?
A thermobaric bomb is a fuel container with two distinct explosive charges inside of it. It is also a vacuum bomb, aerosol bomb, or fuel-air explosive.
This may be dropped as a bomb from an aeroplane or fired as a rocket. The initial explosive charge opens the container and disperses the fuel mixture as a cloud when it strikes its target.
This cloud may breach any building openings or partially sealed defences.
The cloud is then destroyed by a second charge, creating a large flame, a powerful blast wave, and a vacuum that absorbs all the oxygen in the area. The weapon has the power to destroy equipment, fortified structures, and people.
They are used in several ways and come in various sizes, including weapons used by lone troops such as hand-held rocket launchers and grenades.
The effects of this weapon are at their worst in confined settings. Hence huge air-launched versions have also been developed expressly to kill defenders in caverns and tube systems.
The US tested a 9,800 kg bomb known as the “Mother of all bombs” in 2003. Russia created the Father of all bombs, a similar weapon, four years later. It was the largest non-nuclear explosive device ever developed, producing an explosion comparable to a 44-tonne conventional bomb.
vacuum bomb have mostly been utilised in urban settings because of their catastrophic effects and utility against defenders dug into structures or bunkers.
This is crucial given the current events in Ukraine, where Russian troops are attempting to seize Kyiv, the nation’s capital, and other important cities in the east of the country.
What are the thermobaric bomb’s laws of war?
Although they are not expressly prohibited by international law, using them to target human populations in populated areas, schools, or hospitals may result in a war crime conviction under the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions.
Karim Khan, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, has said that his tribunal would look into potential war crimes in Ukraine.
Where have they previously been used?
The history of thermobaric munitions may be traced back to World War Two when the German army first used them. They weren’t commonly employed until the US deployed them in Vietnam in the 1960s.
In Afghanistan, the US also used them. Both in 2017 against Islamic State troops and first in 2001 to attempt to kill al-Qaeda militants sheltering in the Tora Bora mountains caves.
Human Rights Watch denounced Russia in 1999 for using them in its conflict in Chechnya.
It has been claimed that Bashar al-government Assad employed thermobaric weapons developed in Russia during the Syrian Civil War.