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“Barbaric”- Video Shows Russia Using “Thermobaric” Weapons in Ukraine

Russian Tanks Advanced Near Nevelske With Support from Thermobaric Weapons – Late last week, a video circulated on social media that showed a Russian armored column advancing near the settlement in the Yasynuvata Raion (district) in the central Donetsk Oblast.

The small village, located about 25km (15.5 miles), had a pre-war population of under 300. Nearly all the remaining structures had already been destroyed, but the recent attack reportedly involved the Kremlin’s use of thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.

In the video – posted by the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Rob Lee (@RALee85) – a T-72 main battle tank (MBT) could be seen fitted with a TOS-1A Solntsepek (‘Scorching Sun’) multiple rocket launcher system (MRLS).

The TOS-1A was an updated version of the TOS-1 ‘Burantino,’ a heavily armored rocket launcher that could launch incendiary and thermobaric rockets. It is meant to kill any “soft target” in its path.

The rocket system fires thermobaric warheads to rain down death and destruction, which is why the Russians call them “heavy flamethrowers.”

The TOS-1A was introduced to the Russian army in 2001 and was first employed in combat in the war in Chechnya. The launcher is mounted on a tracked vehicle with a T-72 chassis. A three-soldier crew operates the system.

Thermobaric – a Truly Barbaric Weapon When deployed, thermobaric ordnance is a devastating weapon as it employs oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion. Also known as aerosol or vacuum bombs, these can create a  massive shockwave followed by a fire cloud of where the temperature can reach 2500-3000 degrees Celsius (4500-5450 Fahrenheit).

In addition to certainly killing anyone within the blast radius, the heat from the weapon can cause significant damage to structures and vehicles –igniting any fuels and lubricants, as well as setting off any ordnance. 

Many targets are essentially vaporized.

Those who survive the blast can’t be described as the “lucky ones,” as they often have severe injuries to the lungs, eyes, ears, and colon.

The weapons are not unlawful or prohibited by the Geneva Convention, but their use on civilian targets would violate the law of armed conflict (LOAC).

The Russian military is not alone in using such insidious weapons.

The United States had employed thermobaric weapons in Vietnam, but those tended to be air-dropped over enemy positions. During the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. military employed such weapons against the cave complexes in which Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters had taken refuge in the Gardez region.

The first reported deployment of thermobaric weapons in Ukraine occurred in the early stages of the war when 70 Ukrainian fighters were killed in the northeastern town of Okhtyrka.

Russian doctrine was that the best way to attack people in buildings in urban combat was to ensure that people inside could never make it out – or would be wounded so badly they are not capable of continuing to fight.

Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



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