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Fears Putin will unleash Novichok on civilians as weapon of terror in ailing invasion

Daily Express logo Daily Express 04/12/2022 Dylan Donnelly, Jake Loader
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Vladimir Putin has been tipped to use the lethal poison Novichock against civilians rather than soldiers, an expert has warned, as Russia's war continues to rage in Ukraine. Novichock was infamously used in 2018, when former Russian military officer and double agent Sergei Skripal and his wife Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury.

As the war in Ukraine continues, and as Russia loses more annexed ground, US officials are afraid Putin could turn to chemical weapons, before resorting to a nuclear attack.

Poison expert Dr Neil Bradbury, however, said it is unlikely that Russian forces will use Novichock against Ukrainian soldiers because they will likely be protected.

Instead, he warned it is the civilian population that is most vulnerable from the lethal toxin.

He told the Daily Star: "Whilst it is very lethal and kills quickly and easily, in terms of battle use and against troops it probably isn't that effective.

"Certainly for troops that wear chemical warfare suits, they're going to be protected. There's also a very good antidote that troops generally carry.

"Unfortunately, nerve agents tend to have their use targeting civilian populations.

"It's more used as a terror weapon to frighten, rather than an agent directly against troops."

Vladimir Putin has been tipped to use Novichock against civilians rather than soldiers © GETTY Vladimir Putin has been tipped to use Novichock against civilians rather than soldiers Neil Bradbury warned it is civilians that are vulnerable to the lethal toxin's use © GETTY Neil Bradbury warned it is civilians that are vulnerable to the lethal toxin's use

Dr Bradbury, who has degrees in Biochemistry and Medical Biochemistry and penned the book A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Substances and the Killers Who Used Them, said the poison subjects its victims to a horrible death.

He explained: "When people are exposed to this they have frothing mouths because they make lots of saliva and all the secretions in the airways get turned up.

"People start drowning in their own fluids and the heart rate goes completely out of whack because of the interference with the neural regulation. It's a really nasty chemical.

"It is very scary. Technically Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, but to what extent that has (an impact) I don't know."

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‘It's more used as a terror weapon to frighten, rather than an agent directly against troops' © GETTY ‘It's more used as a terror weapon to frighten, rather than an agent directly against troops' Moscow insisted it's four ‘new territories' annexed from Ukraine must be recognised © EXPRESS Moscow insisted it's four ‘new territories' annexed from Ukraine must be recognised

US sources, cited by Politico, say US President Joe Biden's administration is working to ensure its Western allies are prepared for such an attack.

The White House is also working to mobilise resources and manufacture detection systems to be deployed if chemical weapons are used by Moscow.

It comes as Telegram channel SVR, which has alleged links to the Russian despots inner circle, claimed Putin fell down the stairs at his official residence and soiled himself.

It claimed he bruised coccyx after falling down five steps, rolled on to his side and then down a further two steps.

The channel then alleged Putin soiled himself due to the sharp impact and claims he is suffering gastrointestinal cancer, with no concrete evidence to support the claim.

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A Telegram channel claimed Putin fell down the stairs at his official residence and soiled himself © EXPRESS A Telegram channel claimed Putin fell down the stairs at his official residence and soiled himself

Meanwhile, Russia and the West seek to open peace talks, but Moscow has insisted its four "new territories" annexed from Ukraine must be recognised.

At the end of September, Moscow illegally annexed Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, as well as proxy states of Luhansk and Donetsk in the east.

On Thursday Mr Biden, flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron, said he was ready to meet the Russian leader "if in fact there is an interest in him deciding that he's looking for a way to end the war".

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Putin remained open to talks aimed "to ensure our interests", but stressed Moscow was not ready to accept US conditions.

"What did President Biden say in fact?" Mr Peskov asked. "He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine."

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