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Toxic cloud billows over eastern Ukraine town after Russians 'hit nitric acid store'
1 June 2022, 14:26 | Updated: 1 June 2022, 14:39
An acid mushroom cloud has been filmed billowing in the sky over a town in eastern Ukraine after Russian forces 'hit a nitric acid storage facility'.
Footage said to have been filmed from Ukrainian defensive positions near the Azot fertiliser factory in Severodonetsk shows the orange cloud rising in the distance.
It is thought the cloud was released this morning after a nitric acid storage facility at the fertiliser factory was hit by Russian artillery fire, though this was not confirmed.
Video shows Ukrainian soldiers watching the cloud rise in the distance from what appears to be trenches.
Ukrainian authorities have warned residents of Severodonetsk to remain indoors and keep windows closed as it is thought the cloud contains toxic fumes.
Nitric acid can cause severe burns, scarring and cuts when in contact with skin or pulmonary edema, which can be fatal, when inhaled.
Regional Governor of Luhansk province Serhiy Hayday told Sky News on Tuesday that Russian forces were in control of more than 70 per cent of the city with heavy fighting for complete control ongoing elsewhere.
But he warned he believes "there is no sense in losing a lot of soldiers to recapture the city which has no strategic military sense".
"In a military sense the city doesn't matter because for example the neighbouring city of Lysychansk has more high ground and the military will have better positions.
"We've restrained the Russian army for more than three months, it must be understood, and they sent all their troops to capture the Luhansk region.
"The longer we resist, then the more we get foreign weapons, rearm the troops and then we can at least to stop the Russian army, later even counterattack."
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin could attack nearby Lysychansk after capturing sister city Severodonetsk.
It comes a day after President Joe Biden announced the US would send a small number of high-tech, medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine to aid its forces as they struggle to stall Russian progress in the Donbas region.
The rocket systems are part of a new 700 million dollar (£553 million) tranche of security assistance for Ukraine from the US that will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more, according to two senior administration officials.
The US decision to provide the advance rocket systems tries to strike a balance between the desire to help Ukraine battle ferocious Russian artillery barrages while not providing arms that could allow Ukraine to hit targets deep inside Russia and trigger an escalation in the war.
The Ukrainians have assured US officials that they will not fire rockets into Russian territory, according to the senior administration officials.
One official noted that the advanced rocket systems will give Ukrainian forces greater precision in targeting Russian assets inside Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the US is “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire”.
He added that the Kremlin does not trust Kyiv’s assurances that the multiple rocket launch systems supplied by the US will not be used to attack Russia.
“In order to trust (someone), you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept. Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever,” Mr Peskov said.
The expectation is that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern Donbas region, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as Severodonetsk.