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What is white phosphorus Russia used on Snake Island?

The Ukrainian army accused Russia of having attacked Snake Island with White phosphorus bombs, after withdrawing Thursday

By Ground report
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What is white phosphorus Russia used on Snake Island?

The Ukrainian army accused Russia of having attacked Snake Island with White phosphorus bombs, after withdrawing Thursday from that strategic location in the Black Sea.

“Around 6:00 p.m. (Friday), SU-30 planes of the Russian Aeronautics carried out two attacks with phosphorus bombs on the Snake Island,” the commander-in-chief of the General Staff of Ukraine, wrote in Telegram.

The Russian government on Thursday presented its withdrawal from the islands as a "goodwill gesture" intended to demonstrate its willingness not to interfere in UN efforts to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain.

According to the Ukrainian military, Friday's attacks show that Russia "does not respect its own statements." Phosphorus bombs, which leave a white trail in the sky, are incendiary weapons that are internationally prohibited from use against civilian but not military targets.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of having used phosphorus bombs against civilians since the beginning of the invasion of its territory in late February, but Russia has always denied using such devices.

Serpent Island is of great strategic importance and became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance when the Ukrainian guards defending it refused in a radio message now famous throughout the country the order to surrender.

After its conquest, keeping it under their control cost the Russians men and materials. Not far from its shores, the cruiser "Moskva", the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was hit in April by a Ukrainian missile, inflicting its greatest humiliation on the Russian navy in decades.

In an "intelligence update" on Saturday morning, the UK Ministry of Defense claimed that Russia was turning to the use of air-launched anti-ship missiles for ground attacks, "likely due to dwindling stockpiles of modern weapons."

The ministry alleged that analysis of CCTV footage showed that the missile that hit the mall on Monday, killing 19 people, was "highly likely" to be a Kh-32, an upgraded version of the Kh-22 Kitchen missile.

“Although the Kh-32 has several performance improvements over the Kh-22, it is still not optimized to accurately engage ground targets, especially in an urban environment. This greatly increases the likelihood of collateral damage when targeting built-up areas,” he said.

It further warned that Soviet-era missiles, which "are even less accurate and unsuitable for precision strikes," were likely used in the Odessa region on Thursday and "have almost certainly caused civilian casualties repeatedly in recent weeks."

The series of attacks on civilian buildings in recent days has prompted claims that Russia may be using the attacks to send a message to G7 and NATO leaders when they meet at respective summits this week.

What is white phosphorus? 

It is a chemical made from phosphate rocks. In solid form, it has a waxy texture and a garlic-like odor. It can be white or yellow, or transparent (colourless).

White phosphorus is extremely toxic to humans. It can also be quite unstable. In some forms, it catches fire at only 10-15 degrees above room temperature in reaction to oxygen.

Manufacturers use white phosphorus to make products such as computer chips, metal alloys, fertilizers, glow-in-the-dark paint, rat poison, and fireworks.

Some manufacturers and governments also use it to make military ammunition, including bombs. Igniting when it comes into contact with oxygen, the phosphorus burns at 800 degrees Celsius, burning to the bone if it comes into contact with human skin.

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