Ukraine’s army has accused Russia of carrying out attacks using incendiary phosphorus munitions on Snake Island, just a day after Moscow withdrew its forces from the rocky outcrop in the Black Sea.
Two sorties of Russian Su-30 fighter jets dropping phosphorus bombs were flown over the island from the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said on Telegram on Friday.
“Today at around 18:00 … Russian air force Su-30 planes twice conducted strikes with phosphorus bombs on Zmiinyi island,” the Ukrainian army said in a statement, using another name for Snake Island.
The Russian defence ministry described its retreat from the island on Thursday as “a gesture of goodwill” meant to demonstrate that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organise protected grain exports from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian army on Friday accused Russia of being unable to “respect even their own declarations”.
Video footage accompanying the Ukrainian statement showed a plane drop munitions at least twice on the island, and what appeared to be white streaks rising above it.
A Russian airstrike upon the Snake Island that is unmanned now following their withdrawal.
Destroying the weapons they could not evacuate? pic.twitter.com/SsfGLVx7kK
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) July 1, 2022
Phosphorus weapons, which leave a signature white trail in the sky, are incendiary weapons whose use against civilians is banned under an international convention but allowed for military targets.
Ukraine has accused Russia of using phosphorus bombs several times since it invaded in late February, including on civilian areas, allegations Moscow has denied.
Ukraine has claimed that Russian military personnel were forced to retreat from the island after coming under a barrage of artillery and missile fire.
Snake Island lies off the Ukrainian coast, some 35 kilometres (22 miles) off the Danube delta, and was already a restricted military area as a Ukrainian border outpost before the war began.